June 23, 2014. It was meant to be a good old contest between Sergio Garcia and KJ Choi, who were breathing down the neck of overnight leader Ryan Moore. Kevin Streelman was 1-over for the day through 11 holes. Without warning, the 36 year old from Illinois set about decimating the course, to record one of the finest finishes ever witnessed to clinch the title. Streelman birdied the last seven holes to complete the back nine in 28 strokes and surge to victory. A second straight 64 helped him close the Travelers Championship at 15-under 265 and snatch the title.
Not that Streelman was obscure this week – he had flirted with the leaderboard, having made the same score on Saturday. TPC River Highlands is a par 70, laid over 6,841 yards of beautifully manicured lawns outside Cromwell, Connecticut, 10 miles south of Hartford. The course is a well-balanced golf test with a mixture of long and short holes.
Choi and Garcia had impressive finishes too, unfortunately they came up against a record performance. Both men shot 67, only enough for a tie in second, one stroke behind Streelman. Aaraon Baddeley made a 69 to settle for fourth.
The highlight of Streelman’s rousing effort came at the 16th hole. The American sank it from 37 monstrous feet to bring the crowd into a rapturous bout of excitement. “I knew when that putt fell on 16 that something kind of special was happening,” Streelman said reminiscing about his record breaking round.
Incredibly, the man with the 54 hole lead at the Travelers failed to do anything significant with it for a sixth straight year. Ryan Moore’s one stroke advantage meant nothing, after he closed with a 71 to tie for fifth at 12-under.
“It’s probably my favorite nine holes on the PGA Tour,” said the champion. “But you can’t plan for something like that to happen. It just kind of falls into place.” Streelman broke the tour record for most consecutive closing birdies by a winner.
Mike Souchak held the mark, established when he made six in the 1956 St. Paul Open. “I had 10 one-putts in a row,” Streelman said. “That’s something I’ve definitely never done before.” It is an effort he will cherish for the rest of his blessed life.