The uphill climb to the 18th green at Innisbrook 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 Palm Harbor, Fla., in his 153rd start on the PGA Tour.
“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.”
The victory sends Streelman, who finished at 10-under 274, to the Masters next month for the second time in his career.
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. The 28-year-old Lewis ended Yani Tseng’s 109-week run at No. 1. Lewis closed with an 8-under 64. … David Frost won the Toshiba Classic at Newport Beach, Calif., shooting a final-round 65 to defeat Seattle native Fred Couples by five strokes and tie the tournament record of 19-under 194 set by Jay Haas in 2007. … Thomas Aiken of South Africa clinched his second European Tour title, winning the Avantha Masters shooting a 5-under 67 to finish at 23-under 265.