I wasn’t fortunate enough on Sunday afternoon to be able to watch the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on television, but did catch a lot of the action on Sirius-XM radio. At the beginning of the broadcast, no one was talking about Kevin Streelman winning this event, not even Kevin Streelman.
At the start of the day, most of the conversation centered around Ryan Moore, and Brendan Steele. Moore wasn’t able to find his putter all week, and that didn’t change on Sunday. After three bogeys early on, the championship really turned into a crap-shoot.
With all of the contenders hanging in the 12-14 under par area, no one was making a big push to take control of the leaderboard.
Beginning the day four shots back, Kevin Streelman had not made a cut in his last four appearances, and Sunday didn’t begin well for the 35 year-old Duke graduate who’s only victory on the PGA Tour came at the 2013 Tampa Bay Championship.
He made bogey at the second and seventh holes to fall further back. Then he found the zone and a birdie at nine. A couple of par-saving putts at 10 and 11, then he made history.
Kevin Streelman set a PGA Tour record by making seven birdies in a row, and posted 15-under par. At 17, and 18, he hit phenomenal shots into those greens and left himself very-makeable three-foot putts that were almost gimme’s. His 15-under par total put the pressure on the field to break up the party, and forced them to make a birdie down the stretch.
K.J Choi, and Sergio Garcia had opportunities at 17 and 18 to catch Streelman to force a playoff. Sergio made a great birdie at 17 and both teed off at 18 with a chance to tie the lead.
The popular South Korean appeared to be the crowd favorite at Cromwell but playing from the first cut, couldn’t hold his ball on the green. Sergio caught a bad break when his tee shot found an old divot in the fairway, and he couldn’t control the spin.
Both faced daunting putts, and both failed to convert. Choi and Garcia would finish at 14-under par, and tied for second place.
Aussie, Aaron Baddeley also teed off at 18 with an opportunity to tie the leader, but hit his drive to the right and caught a horrible lie. He was only able to advance the ball to within 40 yards of the green, and needed to make the chip shot. He would end his day with a bogey, and sole possession of fourth place.
The story of the day was Kevin Streelman, and his birdie run to get his second win on the PGA Tour. Streelman’s birdie streak to finish a round is a PGA TOUR record, surpassing Mike Souchak’s previous mark of six straight from the 1956 St. Paul Open. His back-nine 28 also matched a record at TPC River Highlands.
“When you’re in the zone like that, when athletes talk about being in the zone, everything is really slow, and it’s really clear and concise, and it’s very vivid,” said Streelman, who began the day four strokes back and was 2 over through his first seven holes Sunday. “The lines are easy to see. The hole seems to appear bigger. It’s almost to a point it doesn’t matter how you read the putts because you just know they’re going in before you hit them.”
At one point, Streelman had to back off his putt on the 12th hole because he started thinking about the fishing vacation he is taking next week in Flagstaff, Ariz.