Monday, December 18, 2017
Golf

Streelman sets birdie mark, wins Travelers

CROMWELL, Conn. — As much as Kevin Streelman enjoys the back nine at TPC River Highlands, even he didn't think what he accomplished Sunday was possible.

Streelman birdied the last seven holes to win the Travelers Championship by a stroke, shooting his second straight 6-under 64 to finish at 15-under 265.

"It's probably my favorite nine holes on the PGA Tour," Streelman said. "But you can't plan for something like that to happen. It just kind of falls into place."

He broke the tour record for consecutive closing birdies by a winner, six by Mike Souchak in the 1956 St. Paul Open. He matched the tournament record with 7-under 28 on the final nine.

"I had 10 one-putts in a row," Streelman said. "That's something I've definitely never done before."

Also the Tampa Bay Championship winner last season, Streelman, 35, missed the cuts in his previous four starts on tour.

"I didn't have too many expectations coming here," said Streelman, who earned $1.12 million.

Sergio Garcia and K.J. Choi (both 67) tied for second. Aaron Baddeley was fourth at 13 under after 69.

For the sixth straight year at the Travelers, the player who held the 54-hole lead failed to win. Ryan Moore was one stroke ahead after three rounds but closed with 71 to tie for fifth at 12 under.

Streelman was 1 over for the day before starting the birdie run on No. 12. The streak reached five with a 37-foot putt at No. 16, and he capped it by hitting a wedge to 9 feet and rolling in another putt at No. 18.

"I knew when that putt fell on 16 that something kind of special was happening," Streelman said.

Streelman said he hasn't focused on golf exclusively lately, trying to spend more time with wife Courtney and 6-month-old daughter Sophie.

"I was thinking about her (Sophie) on those last couple of putts. I was thinking, 'You know what? If these go in, great. If not, great. She's going to love me either way and we have a nice family vacation coming up either way,' " Streelman said.

Streelman said a 10-foot putt for birdie on No. 9 gave him a boost of confidence that he could finish with a flourish.

Garcia has six top-10 finishes in 10 PGA Tour starts this season and won the European Tour's Qatar Masters in January.

"At the end of the day he played really, really well," Garcia said about Streelman. "I feel like I played quite nicely and it just wasn't my time."

CHAMPIONS: After struggling with his putting much of the round, Tom Lehman made a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole to win the Encompass Championship in Glenview, Ill. Lehman, 55, who had led after the second and third rounds, closed with 2-under 70 at North Shore and had 15-under 201 total for his eighth senior title and first since 2012. Michael Allen (67) and Kirk Triplett (68) tied for second, a stroke back.

EUROPEAN: Mikko Ilonen shot a final-round 70 to win the Irish Open in Cork by one stroke, leading from start to finish. Ilonen celebrated his 300th European event and fourth tour victory after an overall 13-under 271 on the Fota Island course. Edoardo Molinari shot 67 to finish second.

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