Streb wins first Tour title in McGladrey playoff

By Doug FergusonOctober 26, 2014, 9:59 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. - Robert Streb made the last of his 10 birdies on the second extra hole, winning a three-way playoff in the McGladrey Classic on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory.

Streb rallied from a five-shot deficit in the final round with a 7-under 63. He waited 90 minutes to see if anyone could catch him, and then outlasted Will MacKenzie and Brendon de Jonge in the playoff at Sea Island.

The victory sends Streb to the Masters in April. The 27-year-old from Oklahoma has never played in any major.

''Very thrilled,'' he said when he walked off the 17th green.

Streb never felt more pressure than over his final two putts. On the first playoff hole at No. 18, Streb ran his 35-foot birdie putt about 4 feet by the hole and had to make that one to stay alive. MacKenzie was eliminated with a bogey from the bunker.

De Jonge hit safely on the green at the par-3 17th, and Streb followed with an 8-iron that covered the flag and plopped down about 4 feet behind the cup.

''I was pretty nervous over those short putts, but managed to work it out, and things went in my favor,'' Streb said.

On his bio, Streb mentioned two items on his bucket list were going to an Oklahoma-Texas game and playing at Augusta National. Streb grew up at Oak Tree just north of Oklahoma City and wound up playing at Kansas State. Even so, it would have seemed a lot easier getting a ticket to the Red River Rivalry than earning a spot at the Masters.


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The latter wasn't easy, either.

Streb started the final round five shots out of the lead, and he didn't seem like much of a threat when he took bogey from a fairway bunker on the opening hole. He wound up making nine birdies, including four straight late in the round to get in the playoff. He made a pair of short putts on the 14th and 15th holes, made a 20-foot putt on the 16th and took a share of the lead when he made a 30-foot birdie on the par-3 17th.

The 63 was his best round on the PGA Tour by two shots.

De Jonge opened with three straight birdies to get in the hunt, and rolled in two more on the 10th and 12th holes. He missed a 10-foot birdie chance on the par-5 15th, and a 20-foot birdie chance on the final hole. He closed with a 65.

''I didn't birdie the par 5 in regulation. I had a very easy bunker shot, but other than that, I didn't leave much out there,'' de Jonge said. ''What can you do? He hit a great shot, and as I said, it's nice for him to have a birdie. It's a good way to win the tournament.''

MacKenzie went from having the best chance to having to scramble. He made his first bogey of the final round when he three-putted from 80 feet on the 16th to fall one shot behind. He followed with a tee shot into 5 feet for birdie on the 17th. He came up short from the rough on the 18th and faced an 80-foot putt from short of the green. He lagged that perfectly to finish with a par and a 68.

Andrew Svoboda, who started the final round tied for the lead with MacKenzie, twice had the outright lead with birdies on the front nine and he remained tied after 10 holes. He made back-to-back bogeys, and then dropped another shot on the 14th and never caught up. Svoboda closed with a 71 and tied for eighth.

Defending champion Chris Kirk closed with a 67 and was in the group that finished two shots behind in a tie for fourth. Kevin Chappell went out in 30 to get within one shot of the lead, only to par every hole on the back nine for a 65 to finish three shots back.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”