Ken Duke wins the Travelers Championship

Ken Duke

Ken Duke (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Ken Duke was able to defeat Chris Stroud on the second playoff hole at TPC River Highlands to win his first PGA Tour event at the 2013 Travelers Championship.
 
What Happened
 
At various points throughout Sunday’s final round, five players were around the lead of the tournament. Charley Hoffman, playing in the final group with Graham DeLaet, was the first to fall, bogeying three of his first six holes, ending up with a 2-over par 72. DeLaet was pretty steady most of the day and was 1-under on his round as he approached the par-3 16th. His tee shot landed short of the green and nearly rolled into the water, but after a poor chip, he would end up making bogey and his birdie on the 18th was only able to get him within one of Duke and Stroud. Bubba Watson was even on his round heading to the back nine and had the lead after birdies on 10, 13 and 15. His triple bogey 6 on the 16th, where he chewed out his caddie Ted Scott twice, knocked him out of contention. With Duke in the clubhouse after an incredible par on the 18th, Stroud needed a birdie to force the playoff when his approach landed on the green, and rolled off, meaning he needed a chip in, which he would get, and he would head back up to the 18th tee with Duke to start the playoff.
 
Both players would make par on the opening playoff hole after Stroud got up and down from the greenside bunker. Both men found the fairway on the second hole, and with Duke having roughly 120 yards left to the green, he struck the best shot of the tournament with his sand wedge, stopping just two feet away from the cup. Stroud’s approach from 97 yards out stayed on the green this time, but left him a long putt, and when he missed and Duke tapped in, it was all over. Ken Duke had his first career PGA Tour win at the age of 44.
 
Final Leaderboard

  • 1. Ken Duke -12 *wins in playoff*
  • 2. Chris Stroud -12
  • 3. Graham DeLaet -11
  • 4. Bubba Watson -10
  • T5. Webb Simpson -9
  • T5. J.J. Henry -9

What The Win Means For Duke
 
Duke is the ultimate journeyman, playing on mini-tours for most of his career before finally getting to the PGA Tour in 2004. He would lose his card, and get it back again, and repeat the cycle a second time before returning to the PGA Tour again last season. He’s had a good year in 2013, but couldn’t close the door to this point. Now, the potential of him going back to the smaller pro tours around the world is gone for the next two years, with his PGA Tour card guaranteed through the 2015 season. He will also jump back into the top-100 in the Official World Golf Rankings, and get him into the Masters, where he’s only played once. Wins for these guys don’t happen often, and when we look at the PGA Tour, we often think of players like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson padding their totals, but these wins mean the world to guys like Ken Duke, who now has job security for the next two years.
 
Bubba Watson and Ted Scott
 
I mentioned the Watson/Scott situation at the top of the post, and you can watch the embedded video below, but here’s my take. This sort of thing happens a lot more than we realize, but it becomes so much bigger because Watson is involved and it was on TV on a Sunday where he could have came away with a win. With that said, Watson is still the one hitting the shots and even if the yardage given to him by Scott was incorrect, it probably could have been handled differently.
 

 
The importance of club selection
 
The last three tee shots of Chris Stroud were all taken on the 18th, and they all split the middle of the fairway, but they also seemed to cost him the tournament, even if they looked perfect at the time. All three left him with downhill lies and downwind, with less than 100 yards to the green. Getting a ball to stop from there in that situation is nearly impossible, even for the pros, which he proved with his first attempt in regulation, which rolled to the fringe. The second approach was short and in the greenside bunker, probably because he didn’t want to do the same thing that he had done about twenty minutes prior. His last approach was the best of the bunch, but it still didn’t hold the way he would have liked, and it rolled nearly to the back of the green again. Yeah, he split the fairway, but the 347 yard drive just because he could get it down there didn’t make any sense, especially after he knew how it played out the first time. One of Stroud or his caddie should have known that and taken a lesser club in the playoff, and because he didn’t, it cost him the tournament.
 
Ugly scorecards of the week
 
Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood didn’t have the best rounds on Sunday…
 
Picture 1
 
Other Notes

  • Notables to miss the cut: Y.E. Yang, Jason Dufner, Davis Love III, Bud Cauley, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Carl Pettersson, Sang-moon Bae, John Daly, Kyle Stanley, Robert Garrigus, Nicolas Colsaerts, Mike Weir, Kevin Streelman, Lucas Glover and Johnson Wagner.
  • Other notable finishes: Angel Cabrera (T9), Rickie Fowler (T13), Justin Rose (T13), Keegan Bradley (T18), Hunter Mahan (T24), Freddie Jacobson (T30), Bo Van Pelt, K.J. Choi, Ian Poulter, Harris English and Vijay Singh (T43), Zach Johnson and Tim Clark (T58), Padraig Harrington (T72), Lee Westwood (74th).
  • This won’t get a ton of play elsewhere, but congratulations to Craig Stadler for winning his first event on the Champions Tour in nine years at the Encompass Championship.
  • It’s only a matter of time now for DeLaet, who will win a tournament before the 2013 season is over. Hoffman on the other hand really needs to stop his Sunday blowups.
  • Interesting tidbit from Ian Baker-Finch on the broadcast: J.J. Henry is one of only ten players to hold his PGA Tour card every year since 2000. Definitely couldn’t have told you that.
  • Great tweet from Gary Christian, who was paired with Fowler on Sunday:
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