Twelve years after graduating Duke, Kevin Streelman is finally a PGA tour winner.
The former Duke golfer captured the Tampa Bay Championship on Innisbrook's Copperhead course to notch his first victory on the PGA Tour. Streelman closed with a 67 Sunday to finish with a 10-under 274, two strokes ahead of runner-up Boo Weekly.
"This is a dream come true," Streelman said in post-round interview with NBC television Sunday. "Hopefully we can do it again. This is a lot of fun."
Playing in the final group, Streelman took the lead for good with a six-foot birdie putt on the par-3 13th hole that followed what the veteran called one of the best shots of his career. Another birdie on 17 gave Streelman a two-shot lead and a par on the final hole sealed the victory.
Streelman's win came in his 153rd career start on the PGA Tour and brought the 34 year-old a cool $990,000. The former Blue Devil has now collected more than $7million in career earnings.
The victory in Palm Harbor, Fla. also catapulted Streelman from 205th to 74th in the World Golf Rankings and earned him his second-ever Masters invitation. The Wheaton, Ill. missed the cut at Augusta National in 2011.
Streelman graduated from Duke in 2001, but did not earn his PGA Tour card until 2007. He logged 400,000 miles—the first chunk on his mom's old Nissan Altima—driving all across the country to play in the events of a number of different mini-tours. Streelman captured four mini-tour victories, but he twice missed the final stage of Qualifying School by just one stroke—single strokes that continued separate him from golf's biggest stage.
"I always just followed my heart to be honest," Streelman told the Chronicle in 2012. "It sounds a little corny but it’s really true. I just continued to work super hard and chase my dream."
After six years of the mini-tour grind, Streelman finally broke through in 2007 when he earned his Tour card with a 14th place finish at Q-school.
"I paid my dues," Streelman said last year. "When I got through Q-School, I kind of felt entitled that I had worked my butt off to get there, and I was going to work that much harder to make sure I stayed."
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