Kevin Streelman reacts to the crowd after winning the Travelers Championship with a score of 265 at TPC River Highlands. Photo by David Butler II, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
Kevin Streelman set a PGA Tour record when he birdied the final seven holes for an astonishing one-stroke victory at the Travelers Championship on Sunday.
Streelman came from nowhere, one-putting the final 10 holes and storming home in 28 strokes on the back nine to clinch his second tour title with a six-under-par 64 at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.
His seven birdies to finish and win is a tour record, supplanting Mike Souchak's previous mark of six straight from the 1956 St. Paul Open.
Mark Calcavecchia holds the record for most consecutive birdies on tour at nine, set at the 2009 Canadian Open.
"It's nuts," an emotional Streelman told Golf Channel after finishing at 15-under 265, one stroke ahead of Spaniard Sergio Garcia (67) and South Korean K.J. Choi (67), while Australian Aaron Baddeley (69) bogeyed the last to finish two strokes behind.
"I made a great putt on nine (and) had tough up-and-downs on 10 and 11 (for par). Those saved the round," said Streelman, who arrived at the tournament previously known as the Greater Hartford Open in terrible form, having missed four straight cuts.
But it all came together when he stepped to the 12th tee on Sunday.
"I started flushing it and made a bunch of putts. It was just a dream-come-true back nine."
Streelman, 35, who bounced around on mini-tours for half a dozen years before making the tour, collected $1.116 million.
His victory was made even more unlikely by the way he made his closing birdies.
His 35-footer at the 16th looked to be missing to the left, but it curled around almost behind the hole and somehow dropped in.
Then, at the 17th, he almost missed a three-footer, his putt barely sneaking in the side door.
And his eight-foot birdie at the final hole was not exactly in the middle, breaking to the right before it dropped.
Garcia, meanwhile, continued his strong form.
"Today I felt like I played quite well," he said. "I fought hard, gave myself some chances."
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)