Duke wins first PGA title in Travelers playoffs

Ken Duke AFP PHOTO

CROMWELL, Connecticut: Ken Duke sank a two-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole on Sunday to defeat fellow American Chris Stroud and win the $6.1-million Travelers Championship for his first US PGA title.

The 44-year-old from Hope, Arkansas—hometown of former US President Bill Clinton—took the $1.08-million top prize and became the oldest first-time US PGA Tour winner since Ed Dougherty won his only title at age 47 in 1995.

“I worked hard, I have knocked on the door a lot and here we are,” Duke said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Duke had been a runner-up three times in PGA events—at New Orleans in 2007 and Milwaukee and the Ginn sur Mer Classic in 2008.

Stroud, a 31-year-old Texan whose best prior PGA finish was a share of fourth at the 2011 Mayakoba Classic in Mexico, sank a 48-foot chip shot for a birdie at the 18th on the last hole of regulation play to force a playoff.

Duke and Stroud both finished 72 holes on 12-under par 268. Duke fired a final-round 66, five-under par, while Stroud shot 67.

The playoff began at the 18th tee and Duke found the left rough, but blasted a wedge shot pin high onto the green. Stroud, whose tee shot was in the fairway 92 yards from the cup, then dumped his approach into a greenside bunker.

Stroud blasted out seven feet from the cup and Duke followed by leaving his 30-foot birdie putt inches from the cup for a tap-in par.

Stroud then sank his tension-packed par putt to extend the playoff, both men going to the 18th tee for the third time Sunday.

Duke knocked his second shot, a sand wedge from 117 yards out, just two feet from the cup, while Stroud left himself 20 feet for birdie.

Stroud’s putt rolled inches right and he tapped in for par. Moments later, Duke tapped in for the long-sought victory and pumped his right fist in celebration.

Canada’s Graham DeLaet was third on 269 with American Bubba Watson fourth on 270.

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