CROMWELL, Conn. – Ken Duke needed 187 starts on the PGA Tour to get his first win, securing it at a tournament that is building a reputation for such breakthroughs.
The 44-year-old journeyman made a 2 1/2 -foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to beat Chris Stroud at the Travelers Championship.
Stroud, who also was looking for his first title, had chipped in from 51 feet on the 18th hole, to get to 12-under par and force the playoff.
But Duke made the better approach shot on the second extra hole, bouncing his ball in front of the flag and rolling it close.
Yeah, it’s been a long time, said Duke, who turned pro in 1994. 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.
Duke, who came in ranked 144th in the world, is the sixth golfer in eight years to get his first PGA Tour win here.
Canadian Graham DeLaet finished a stroke back in third place with a 269.
You gotta believe in yourself in everything you do, Duke said. That’s why those guys at the top are winning week in, week out because they believe they can do it. It’s kind of one of those things once you finally do it, it might come easier the next time. That’s kind of the way I feel.
LPGA: In Rogers, Ark., world No. 1 Inbee Park sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole against So Yeon Ryu, capping her final-round rally and winning the LPGA NW Arkansas Championship. The victory is the second straight for Park, who won the LPGA Championship two weeks ago, and the fifth of the year for the South Korean star. She now has seven wins in her last 23 starts.
Former Fort Wayne resident Amanda Blumenherst shot a final-round 76 and tied for 70th.
EUROPEAN: In Munich, Ernie Els won the BMW International Open by one shot for his 28th European Tour title. He closed with a third straight 3-under 69 to finish at 18-under 270 on the Eichenried Golf Club course. Thomas Bjorn of Denmark shot a 69 and finished a stroke back. Alexander Levy of France had a 71 and was another stroke off the pace for his best result.
CHAMPIONS: In Glenview, Ill., Craig Stadler birdied four of the first six holes, then hung on to win the Encompass Championship by one stroke over Fred Couples by sinking a par-saving 12-foot putt on the final hole. Stadler’s eight years and almost nine months between victories is the longest stretch in Champions Tour history. J.C. Snead had gone almost seven years between titles from 1995 to 2002.