|Ken Duke wins Travelers Championship in playoff|
|Sunday, June 23, 2013 11:55 PM|
CROMWELL, Conn. — Ken Duke needed 187 starts on the PGA Tour to get his first win, securing it at a tournament that is building a reputation for such breakthroughs.
The 44-year-old journeyman made a 2 1/2-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to beat Chris Stroud at the Travelers Championship.
Stroud, who also was looking for his first title, had chipped in from 51 feet on the 18th hole to get to 12-under par and force the playoff.
But Duke made the better approach shot on the second extra hole, bouncing his ball in front of the flag and rolling it close.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time,” said Duke, who turned pro in 1994. “I’ve been on the Canadian tour, the mini tours, Asian Tour, South American Tour, all of them; Web.com, and it’s just great to be a part of this big family on the PGA Tour.”
Duke, who came in ranked 144th in the world, is the sixth golfer in eight years to get his first PGA Tour win here, joining J.J. Henry (2006), Hunter Mahan (2007), Bubba Watson (2010), Fredrik Jacobsen (2011) and Marc Leishman last year.
Canadian Graham DeLaet finished a stroke back in third place with a 269. Watson finished fourth, two shots behind, after making a six on the par-3 16th hole.
Duke wouldn’t have been in position to win at all had luck not intervened on the 10th hole, when his ball ricocheted off a tree and onto the green to about five feet from the pin, allowing him to make birdie.
After a 17-foot birdie putt on the next hole, he made a 45-footer on the 13th hole, a shot that looked as though it might go past the hole to the right, before falling in.
He battled Watson for the lead down the back nine, until the former Masters champion found trouble on the 16th.
Watson put his drive into the water and put his next shot over the green.
He finished two strokes back in fourth place.
Duke looked as though he had the tournament sewn up after saving par on 18, despite a tee shot that went well right and onto a hill and a second shot that went just over the green. He used a putter to put the ball within two feet, then sank the putt as the crowd roared for what they thought was a winning shot.
It looked even more secure when Stroud’s second shot hit near the stick but then rolled well off the green. That just set up the dramatic chip shot.
Stroud hit his tee shot over the cart path and 94 yards from the hole on the first playoff hole, while Duke’s first shot jumped out of a fairway bunker and into the rough.
Duke bounced his second shot onto the green. Stroud’s went into a greenside bunker.
Stroud chipped to eight feet but had to watch as Green almost sank a long putt that would have ended it.
The two both struck the ball well on the second playoff hole but Stroud missed a 25-foot birdie putt; Duke made his short putt.
Watson, Charley Hoffman and DeLaet began the day tied for the lead but 21 other players were within five strokes.
Webb Simpson shot a 65 to finish at 271, then headed home immediately after his round despite being just a stroke behind the leaders at the time. He explained he knew the score wouldn’t be good enough to win and he was itching to get to his family.
Justin Rose followed his U.S. Open win by shooting 6-under par for this tournament. He was in contention, with two birdies on his first seven holes, but didn’t get another until the final hole and made three bogeys. He said fatigue was a factor.
“I’m still able to put one foot in front of the other,” he said. “I still feel OK but my guess is there’s just a little bit of sharpness that I might be lacking.”
No player has gone back-to-back after capturing the U.S. Open since 1997, when Ernie Els won the Buick Classic at the Westchester Country Club in New York.
Rose plans to play next week at Congressional before taking two weeks off to prepare for the British Open.
DeLaet a native of, Weyburn, Saskatchewan, said his thoughts this week have been with the people of Alberta, where widespread flooding is blamed for at least three deaths and forced thousands to evacuate.
He had the words “For Alberta” written on his cap Sunday.
The 2009 Canadian Tour player of the year pledged to donate $1,000 for every birdie he made to help the relief efforts.
PGA Tour Canada, a bank and a Canadian businessman all agreed to match the donation. He finished with three birdies on Sunday and nine for the weekend.
“Hopefully it puts a small dent in what they need,” he added. “But our hearts are still with them.”
ROGERS, Ark. — Inbee Park took some time off for rest and relaxation last week following her win at the LPGA Championship.
The world No. 1 looked every bit at ease on her way to a second straight win — her fifth of the year — on Sunday at the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship.
Park sank a 4-foot birdie on the first playoff hole against So Yeon Ryu, capping her final-round rally and once again reminding the golf world who is clearly in control of the LPGA Tour this year.
Sunday’s win was Park’s second straight in a playoff, following her final-day 39-hole effort at the PGA Championship. It came after she began the day two shots back of a group of four leaders, each who fell by the wayside as the South Korean took control at Pinnacle Country Club on her way to her seventh win in her last 23 starts.
After opening with a 2-under 69 on Friday, Park vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with three straight birdies on the front nine on Sunday. She dropped a shot with a bogey on the par-3 11th before birdies on 14 and 18 sent her to the playoff.
Park and Ryu finished the tournament tied at 12 under, one shot ahead of Mika Miyazato. It’s the second straight year Miyazato has finished as the runner-up.
Amateur Lydia Ko, I.K. Kim and local favorite and world No. 2 Stacy Lewis, who played at nearby University of Arkansas, each finished two shots back.
After Park sank an 8-foot birdie putt on her final hole of regulation to reach 12 under, Ryu followed with a birdie of her own on the par-5 18th to match her fellow South Korean, good friend and practice partner.
In the playoff, which took place on No. 18, Park appeared calm throughout — finding the fairway off the tee and nearly reaching the green in two before chipping her third shot within four feet.
That put pressure on Ryu to hole a chip for birdie from just off the back of the green — a chip she narrowly missed. Park then calmly sank her birdie putt to end the tournament and once again find herself a winner.
MUNICH — Ernie Els won the BMW International Open by one shot for his 28th European Tour title. He closed with a third straight 3-under 69 to finish at 18-under 270 on the Eichenried Golf Club course. Els was in front after the first and second rounds and entered the last day as part of a 3-way lead.
Thomas Bjorn of Denmark shot a 69 and finished a stroke back. Alexander Levy of France had a 71 and was another stroke off the pace for his best result.
Els is a 2-time winner at both the U.S. Open and British Open. He is the first South African to win the BMW International in the competition’s 25th edition.
GLENVIEW, Ill. — Craig Stadler birdied four of the first six holes, then hung on to win the Encompass Championship by one stroke over Fred Couples by sinking a par-saving 12-foot putt on the final hole.
Stadler’s eight years and almost nine months between victories is the longest stretch in Champions Tour history. J.C. Snead had gone almost seven years between titles from 1995 to 2002.
Stadler shot 1-under-par 71 at North Shore Country Club to finish at 13-under 203. Couples’ final-round 66 put him at 12 under but he bogeyed the final hole.
Mark O’Meara, Bernhard Langer, David Frost and Jeff Sluman were among seven players tied for third at 205.
Stadler hadn’t scored an individual top-10 since tying for seventh in last year’s 3M Championship. Working with teacher Billy Harmon beginning three months ago helped bring Stadler’s game back to championship level.