The uphill climb to the 18th green at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, Fla., was nothing compared with the journey that brought Kevin Streelman his first PGA Tour victory.
He burned up three cars driving some 400,000 miles across the country playing the mini-tours. He used to clean clubs during the week and caddie on the weekends.
His biggest claim on tour was winning $1 million from a bonus competition called the Kodak Challenge. His last win was five years ago in the club championship at Whisper Rock.
Streelman won the Tampa Bay Championship on Sunday in his 153rd start on the PGA Tour.
The way he played this weekend on the tough Copperhead course – particularly the back nine – made it look as if he had done this many times before.
“Always had a dream of getting here,” Streelman said. “And so to get this is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of time spent late into the evening, and getting up early in the morning. And it’s really a dream come true.”
Streelman took the lead for good with a 5-iron into 6 feet on the par-3 13th, the toughest at Innisbrook on the final day, for a birdie.
“Probably the best shot of my life in that situation,” Streelman said. “It’s just how I envisioned it and I pulled it off.”
He met his final challenge with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole, leading to a 4-under 67.
Streelman didn’t make a bogey over the last 37 holes. He didn’t miss a shot the last 11 holes.
“Hopefully, we can do it again,” Streelman said. “This is a lot of fun.”
Boo Weekley, who teed off three hours before the leaders, had a tournament-best 63 and finished second.
The victory sends Streelman, who finished at 10-under 274, to the Masters next month.
Lewis wins in LPGA
Stacy Lewis won the LPGA Founders Cup in Phoenix to jump to No. 1 in the world, taking advantage of Ai Miyazato’s collapse on the 16th hole.
Coming off a victory two weeks ago in Singapore, Lewis won for the seventh time in her LPGA Tour career to end Yani Tseng’s 109-week run at No. 1.
Frost ties record
David Frost won the Toshiba Classic in Newport Beach, Calif., shooting a final-round 65 to defeat Fred Couples by five strokes and tie the tournament record of 19-under 194 set by Jay Haas in 2007.
Frost joined 2011 winner Nick Price as the only golfers to lead wire to wire.