Grading the Travelers Championship
Justin Rose, Ken Duke and Bubba Watson get high marks. Padraig Harrington, Mike Weir and Lee Westwood do not.
"Duke wins" and "cinderella story" are two phrases you don't often hear said together.
It took longer than he expected -- both in years and in holes, but Duke finally got his first one.
According to Justin Ray of ESPN, Duke is the oldest first-time winner on Tour in 18 years. He missed being the oldest first-time winner ever by seven years -- that was John Barnum at age 51 in 1962.
Duke thought he had things sewn up on his 72nd hole when a clutch putt from off the green rolled to a foot and he tapped in for par. It capped off a 4-under 66 and left him at 12 under for the tournament.
He was clear of everybody but one man, Chris Stroud, who had just hit his second shot over the green on No. 18. Duke's caddie took his bib off; the champagne was on ice.
Then Stroud chipped in to tie Duke, and back to No. 18 they went. Twice, actually, before Duke hit a stiff wedge on his 74th hole of the tournament, read his three-foot putt for about five minutes and finally holed it out for glory.
There wasn't a person at the tournament or on Twitter rooting against the guy, either. And that was to take nothing away from Stroud.
It's just that we like everyman stories. We kind of like that Duke had never won and he's 44 and that, well, he's got a bit of a paunch on him.
We love that it seemed like he was as nervous as we were watching and that he had a little bit of trouble getting through his victory speech with David Feherty shortly thereafter.
And, man, we love that fist pump.
Here are our grades for the Wells Fargo Championship:
|A||Great stat from ESPN: coming into this tournament Ken Duke and Chris Stroud had played 371 combined PGA Tour tournaments with zero wins.|
|B||Bubba Watson's meltdown will overshadow what was a great week of play. This was only his second top-five finish of the season and first since the Tournament of Champions in January.|
|B||Justin Rose backed up his US Open with a top-15 finish at the Travelers Championship. He was actually pretty heavily in the mix until a Sunday 71 derailed him. Hottest player in the world right now?|
|C||Oh, that Sunday round, Padraig Harrington. The Irishman was just four back heading to Sunday before firing an 80 that included eight bogeys and a double bogey to finish T72.|
|D||Lee Westwood shot a 78 on Sunday to finish last of those who made the cut. He's probably still thinking about those wicker baskets at Merion.|
|F||Mike Weir was on something of a hot streak coming into the week. He'd made four straight cuts topped by a T28 at the US Open after not having made a cut in February, March or April. Weir faltered again in Connecticut though, missing the cut by six.|
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