Streelman finds peace of mind in win
Kevin Streelman earned his first PGA Tour victory Sunday at the Tampa Bay Championship, shooting a final-round 67 to finish two shots ahead of Boo Weekley. The win came in Streelman’s 153rd career PGA Tour start.
Here are Five Things to take away from Sunday at Innisbrook:
1. Man of Streel
Streelman could enjoy his first winner's walk up No. 18. A 19-foot birdie putt at the second-to-last hole gave Streelman a two-shot cushion over Weekley, who was in the clubhouse. Streelman two-putted for par on the final hole to finish at 10-under-par 274 (73-69-65-67).
“I just had a peace about me today,” Streelman said.
His week started stressfully, though, after he went to the emergency room last Sunday because of possible food poisoning. That may have turned into a blessing.
“I didn't really feel good until Thursday,” he said. “And so I think that probably took a little stress off me as far as having maybe lower expectations.”
Streelman, who was in a three-way tie for the 54-hole lead, took a one-shot lead by holing a 6-foot birdie putt at the 200-yard, par-3 13th hole. He had four birdies and no bogeys Sunday. Streelman, who was bogey-free over the final 37 holes, two-putted for birdie on his first hole Sunday and chipped-in for another birdie at the third hole.
The win earned Streelman his second career Masters invitation; he missed the cut in his debut in 2011. Streelman won at a course where he holds a dubious distinction: He posted the highest post-cut round in the event’s history, an 84 in the third round in 2008.
Streelman turned pro in 2001 after graduating Duke with a sociology degree. His didn’t earn his first PGA Tour card until the 2007 Q-School, and made only two Web.com Tour starts before that. He “lost all my money” on the Gateway Tour in 2002 and worked as a caddie at famed Whisper Rock to make money for entry fees. At the first stage of 2007 Q-School, Streelman had to birdie four of his final five holes to advance on the number.
“I look back at some of those 12-, 15-footers, if one of those lipped out or something, I don't know what would have happened, because I got to second stage and finals and got my tour card through Q-School,” Streelman said.
That close call eventually led to Streelman holding the oversized winner’s check.
Weekley teed off nearly three hours before the final group but gave himself a chance to win after shooting the week's low round. His final-round 63 moved him from 35th to second, two shots behind Streelman. Weekley hadn’t broken 70 in the first three rounds but had eight birdies and no bogeys Sunday.
His final four birdie putts all were 2 feet or less. He two-putted for birdies at the par-5 11th and 14th holes, then stiffed his tee shot at the 215-yard, par-3 15th and his 164-yard approach at the next hole.
“Even I'm still kind of shocked at how good I really hit it,” Weekley said. “The two greens that I missed I thought were going to be perfect. . . . Overall one of the best days I've had in ballstriking in a long time.”
This was Weekley’s second consecutive top-10; he finished eighth at last week’s Puerto Rico Open. His last PGA Tour victory came at the 2008 Verizon Heritage.
3. Just short
Justin Leonard, seeking his first victory since the 2008 St. Jude Championship, accompanied Streelman in Sunday’s final group. Leonard shot 71 to fall four shots short of the victory, though, and finished fourth. The 12-time PGA Tour winner had five birdies and five bogeys Sunday. He tied with defending champion Luke Donald and Australia’s Greg Chalmers.
Leonard made birdie at the par-5 14th to reach 8 under par, but he bogeyed Nos. 16 and 18.
This was Leonard’s first top-25 in seven starts this season. It was his highest finish since the 2011 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
4. Members only
Jordan Spieth, 19, shot a final-round 70 to finish seventh, his fourth consecutive top-seven finish on the PGA and Web.com tours. The high finish allowed Spieth to earn special temporary membership. He gained the status by surpassing the earnings of No. 150 on last year’s money list. That allows him to accept unlimited sponsor exemptions this season; non-members are limited to seven sponsor exemptions per season.
Spieth, who was runner-up at last week’s Puerto Rico Open, was two shots off the lead to start the final round and was 3 under after Sunday’s first eight holes. He made bogeys at Nos. 9, 12 and 13 before chipping in for birdie at the par-3 17th. He holed a 7-foot par putt on the final hole to remain in the top 10. Spieth has earned $521,892 in four PGA Tour starts this season.
“To go four weeks, four different countries and play well, it's a big confidence boost,” Spieth said.
He played Web.com Tour events in Panama (tie for seventh) and Colombia (tie for fourth) before his play in Puerto Rico and Tampa. His next scheduled PGA Tour starts will be the Shell Houston Open from March 28-31 and Valero Texas Open from April 4-7.
5. Short shots
• Defending champion Luke Donald finished fourth; Donald shot 69 Sunday to collect his first top-10 since the European Tour’s 2012 finale, the DP World Tour Championship. Donald’s best finish in three previous starts had been 16th at the Northern Trust Open.
• PGA Tour rookie Shawn Stefani, the leader after the first and second rounds, shot 70 Sunday to finish seventh, the first top-10 of his PGA Tour career. Walking away with $148,893, he had made just $35,199 in his first six starts this year.
• George Coetzee, No. 42 in the Official World Golf Ranking, received a sponsor exemption to the Tampa Bay Championship. He was tied for the 54-hole lead but shot 74 Sunday to finish 17th.