Ken Duke became the U.S. PGA Tour’s oldest first-time winner in 18 years by beating Chris Stroud in a playoff at golf’s Travelers Championship.
Duke, 44, made a 2 1/2-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole yesterday at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, for his first title in 187 career PGA Tour starts.
Duke is the 17th first-time winner at the Travelers Championship dating back to Bob Toski’s victory in 1953. Toski is now Duke’s swing coach. Duke is the oldest player to get his breakthrough PGA Tour win since Ed Dougherty won the 1995 Sanderson Farms Championship at age 47.
“It’s been a long time,” Duke said in a news conference. “I’ve been on the Canadian tour, the mini tours, Asian Tour, South American Tour, Web.com, all of them, and it’s just great to be a part of this big family on the PGA Tour.”
Stroud, who was also seeking his first PGA Tour victory, forced the playoff by holing a 16-yard chip for birdie at the 18th hole to tie Duke at 12-under par. Both players made pars on the first extra hole before Duke hit his approach shot within three feet on the second playoff hole -- again the par-4 18th -- to set up the winning birdie. It came after Stroud missed a birdie attempt of about 20 feet.
“I’ve lost tournaments by somebody chipping in on the last hole like that or making a long putt and beating me probably six or seven times,” said Duke, who received $1.1 million. “Finally doing it, it’s awesome.”
Duke shot a 4-under-par 66 during yesterday’s final round to overcome a two-shot deficit, while Stroud shot 67.
Canada’s Graham DeLaet finished one shot out of the playoff with a four-round total of 11-under par 269. Bubba Watson, the 2010 Travelers Championship winner, had a one-shot lead before hitting his tee shot into a pond on the par-3 16th hole and making a triple-bogey 6. Watson finished 10 under.
The PGA Tour moves to Bethesda, Maryland, for the $6.5 million AT&T National, which is scheduled for June 27-30 at Congressional Country Club.