LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Kevin Streelman added another interesting accomplishment to his PGA Tour resume on Friday. This one is probably his favorite, since it was worth $1 million.
Streelman made birdie on No. 17 at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magnolia Course on Friday to clinch the Kodak Challenge. The year-long competition takes an aggregate score from a predetermined (and picturesque) hole at each week’s PGA Tour stop. The low 18 scores are counted, and a winner is crowned.
Streelman could have been caught if Bo Van Pelt eagled the hole this week, but his 4-foot birdie putt gave him a three-shot lead, thus putting the competition out of reach. He hit a sand wedge from 118 yards to set up the winning stroke.
“I heard the screams, and I was hoping it was a kick-in, but there was still 4 feet, so I was thinking, ‘Oh, here we go,’ ” Streelman said. His $1 million winner’s check was more than this week’s winner will earn, and more than he’s made on the PGA Tour this year ($995,017).
The Kodak Challenge may have been a publicity stunt, but it had real implications. Streelman pumped his fist when he made the 4-foot birdie putt Friday. His caddie, Michael Collins, said they played the entire Fall Series in an attempt to win the title. Collins, an XM Radio announcer for the past two years, got on Streelman’s bag at this year’s Byron Nelson.
“It definitely got pretty nerve-wracking during the last couple events, but I stayed strong,” Streelman said. “Hopefully, I can build on this and use it on the 71st and 72nd holes of a PGA Tour event when I have the lead in the next year or two.”
Streelman is wrapping up his second season on the PGA Tour, a short tenure that’s seen him face Tiger Woods in the final pairing of a Tour event (third round of the ‘08 Buick Invitational), take the first-round lead at a U.S. Open (also in 2008), and become the subject of an iPhone app.
Johnny Damon, who has had some success of his own recently as a member of the World Series champion New York Yankees, was Streelman’s playing partner Friday in the pro-am portion of the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. Just before Streelman hit his winning approach, Damon hit his second shot on No. 17 into the grandstands.
“I was going to play my ball that was in the grandstands, but I was like, ‘He’s got to concentrate,’ ” Damon said. “So I was like, let him do his thing. It’s great. I mean, he buried it.”