Mostly Cloudy78° WeatherMostly Cloudy78° Weather

Duke wins Travelers for first PGA title

Ken Duke, 44, triumphs in a playoff for his first win in 187 starts on the PGA Tour.

Associated Press

Ken Duke, 44, triumphs in a playoff for his first win in 187 starts on the PGA Tour.

CROMWELL, Conn. — Ken Duke needed 187 starts on the PGA Tour to get his first win, securing it at a tournament that is building a reputation for such breakthroughs.

The 44-year-old journeyman made a 2½-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to beat Chris Stroud at the Travelers Championship.

Stroud, who also was looking for his first title, had chipped in from 51 feet on the 18th hole to get to 12 under and force the playoff. But Duke made the better approach shot on the second extra hole, bouncing his ball in front of the flag and rolling it close.

"Yeah, it's been a long time," said Duke, who turned pro in 1994. "I've been on the Canadian tour, the mini tours, Asian Tour, South American Tour, all of them; Web.com, and it's just great to be a part of this big family on the PGA Tour."

Duke, who went in ranked 144th in the world, is the sixth golfer in eight years to get his first PGA Tour win here, joining J.J. Henry (2006), Hunter Mahan (2007), Bubba Watson (2010), Fredrik Jacobsen (2011) and Marc Leishman last year.

Canadian Graham DeLaet finished a stroke back in third place with 269. Watson finished fourth, two shots behind, after making 6 on the par-3 16th.

"You gotta believe in yourself in everything you do," Duke said. "That's why those guys at the top are winning week in, week out because they believe they can do it. It's kind of one of those things once you finally do it, it might come easier the next time. That's kind of the way I feel."

Duke wouldn't have been in position to win at all had luck not intervened on the 10th hole, when his ball ricocheted off a tree and onto the green to about 5 feet from the pin, allowing him to make birdie.

LPGA: Inbee Park sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole against So Yeon Ryu, capping her final-round rally and winning the NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Ark. The world No. 1 earned her second straight win in a playoff, two weeks after the LPGA Championship, and has seven wins in her past 23 starts.

Park began the day two shots back of a group of four leaders, but she vaulted to the top with three straight birdies on the front nine. She dropped a shot with bogey on the par-3 11th before birdies on 14 and 18 sent her to the playoff.

Park and Ryu finished tied at 12 under, one shot ahead of Mika Miyazato. Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse shot 77 to finish at 2-over 215.

CHAMPIONS: Craig Stadler birdied four of the first six holes, then hung on to win the Encompass Championship in Glenview, Ill., by one shot over Fred Couples, sinking a par-saving 12-foot putt on the final hole. Stadler's eight years and almost nine months between victories is the longest stretch in tour history. J.C. Snead went almost seven years between titles from 1995 to 2002. Stadler shot 1-under 71 to finish at 13-under 203. Couples' final-round 66 put him at 12 under, but he bogeyed the final hole.

PGA EUROPE: Ernie Els won the BMW International Open in Munich by one shot, finishing at 18-under 270 for his 28th tour title.

Duke wins Travelers for first PGA title 06/23/13 [Last modified: Sunday, June 23, 2013 11:39pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...