With victory No. 1 in PGA Tour start No. 187 on Sunday, Ken Duke became the 10th first-time winner through 26 PGA Tour events this year, and the sixth man in the past eight years to collect his first PGA win at the Travelers Championship.
His four straight days of staying under 70 were almost all for naught when Chris Stroud chipped in from 51 feet for birdie on the 72nd hole. Stroud also enjoyed all four rounds under 70, which was par for the TPC River Highlands course, but he fell to Duke on the second playoff hole.
They’re not newcomers, but also not headliners, so here are five things you need to know about Duke and Stroud:
1) At 44, he is the oldest first-time winner on the PGA Tour in 18 years. The $1.098 million check he received for his efforts brings his season total to $1,600,045 through 19 events – more than the $1,511,628 he earned all of last year in 30 tournaments.
2) Entering the week 144th in the world rankings, Duke now sits at a career-high No. 70. He first turned pro in 1994.
3) Duke’s most recent win as a pro prior to Sunday came at the 2011 Nationwide Tour Championship (the developmental tour now called Web.com Tour). Before that it was the BMW Charity Pro-Am in 2006, when he was the Nationwide Tour leading money winner and Player of the Year.
4) Duke’s best finish in a major tournament was when he tied for 13th at the 2008 PGA Championship.
5) Diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 14, the Arkansas native spent the next two years wearing a back brace 23 hours a day. But when the curvature of his spine increased from 26 to 51 percent, he underwent surgery that affixed a 16-inch metal rod to his spine. Just months later he returned to his high school golf team and has lived with that rod ever since.
This has been an amazing ride, thanks to everyone for all the support, it means the world to me!!! pic.twitter.com/NIJCb7nvR7
— Ken Duke (@DukePGA) June 24, 2013
1) The playoff loss still marked a career-best finish for Stroud, who walked with $658,800. That nearly matches the amount he’s earned all season, which now includes three top 10s. He’s made $6,202,614 over his pro career, which began in 2004.
2) The 32-year-old jumped from 187th to 111th in the world rankings, a career high. Stroud began the year ranked No. 262.
3) Stroud has never qualified to play in the Masters or British Open, and the only time he’s made the cut in a major was the 2010 U.S. Open, when he tied for 47th.
4) A two-time All-American while at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas –15 miles from his hometown of Nederland – Stroud won the 2003 North and South Amateur tournament. He also competed for the U.S. at the 2004 Palmer Cup, an annual team event pitting American collegians against European counterparts.
5) Stroud says he would love to be a Navy Seal.
— Chris stroud (@ChrisStroudPGA) June 24, 2013
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