44-year-old Ken Duke secured his first PGA Tour title with a victory over Chris Stroud on the second playoff hole for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.
Duke, who was playing in his 187th PGA Tour event, began the final round two shots behind 54-hole leaders Bubba Watson, Charley Hoffman and Graham DeLaet. On a day when more than 10 players had a chance of victory, luck went Duke’s way. He enjoyed a fortuitous bounce off a tree on the 10th that set up an unlikely birdie, before making long putts at the 11th and 13th holes.
Despite Duke’s surge, Bubba Watson still had the tournament in his grasp after a birdie on the 15th. But the left-hander hit his tee shot into the water on the par-3 16th, then struck his third shot through the green. He made a disastrous, triple-bogey six and his race was run.
“The wind affected the first shot, and the wind didn’t affect the next shot,” Watson said. “I flew it 3 feet past the hole, which you can’t do right now because the greens are so firm.”
Duke made an excellent par save on the final hole and posted 12-under-par for the tournament. That total looked likely to be enough to take the title in regulation play. But Chris Stroud had other ideas.
The American needed to birdie the home hole to tie Duke. It seemed a remote possibility when his second shot rolled off the edge of the green. But, digging deep, Stroud chipped in to force a playoff.
The pair halved the first extra hole, but Duke played a fine approach at the second to set up the winning birdie.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time,” said Duke.” 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.”
U.S. Open Champion Justin Rose threatened the top of the leaderboard briefly in the final round following two birdies in his first seven holes, but he fell away with three bogeys. He admitted to being a little tired.
“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.”
TPC River Highlands, Cromwell, Connecticut
Jun 20-23, purse $6,100,000, par 70
1 Ken Duke (USA) 69 68 65 66 268 $1,098,000
2 Chris Stroud (USA) 66 69 66 67 268 $658,800
3 Graham DeLaet (Can) 65 70 65 69 269 $414,800
4 Bubba Watson (USA) 63 67 70 70 270 $292,800
T5 J.J. Henry (USA) 68 67 68 68 271 $231,800
T5 Webb Simpson (USA) 65 69 72 65 271 $231,800
T7 Charley Hoffman (USA) 61 73 66 72 272 $196,725
T7 Ryan Moore (USA) 68 70 66 68 272 $196,725
T9 Stuart Appleby (Aus) 69 67 69 68 273 $158,600
T9 Angel Cabrera (Arg) 67 72 71 63 273 $158,600
T9 Morgan Hoffman (USA) 68 71 66 68 273 $158,600
T9 Jeff Maggert (USA) 70 70 65 68 273 $158,600
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
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