Duke and Stads Bag Long-Awaited Victories

Duke and Stads Bag Long-Awaited Victories 1
Ken Duke

IT TOOK 187 PGA TOUR STARTS but 44-year-old Ken Duke finally got that coveted first title on Sunday by beating Chris Stroud on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff at the Travelers Championship. Duke lofted a gorgeous pitching wedge shot just over a bunker that stopped three feet from the hole. Stroud failed to birdie, and Duke, a man who has seemingly played every tourCanadian, Asian, South American, Web.com, you name ittapped in for the long-sought victory.

“You have to be patient,” Duke said. “You can’t make things happen out here. You can’t win by pushing everything. You just have to be patient. And that’s kind of the way I live life. I’m an easy‑going kind of guy, just kind of a go‑with‑the‑flow kind of guy, and that’s the way I play golf.”

Bubba Watson looked like he was cruising to a second win in Cromwell until he triple bogeyed the par-3 16th hole. His public dress down of caddie Ted Scott over club selection and yardage has perhaps received as much attention as Duke’s triumph, which is a shame, really. Caught on camera, it was a bad moment for Bubba, no doubt.

The caddie took the blame.

“I convinced him to hit the wrong club,” Scott told PGATour.com. “I 100 percent take responsibility for it. It’s totally my fault. I got in the way of the painter on that one.”

Duke and Stads Bag Long-Awaited Victories 2
Craig Stadler

It’s not as if Craig Stadler had never won like Ken Duke, but it had been eight years and nine months between victories (not that anyone was counting). Stads, who is 60can you believe it?had to sink a 12-foot curling par putt to do it, and stroked it home for a one-shot victory over Fred Couples at the inaugural Encompass Championship in the Chicago suburbs.

“It looked really familiar to the putt I made a billion years ago at Akron,” Stadler said about the tournament winner at North Shore Country Club. “Kind of left to right, just kind of dripped it in the low side.

“When’s the last time I had anything to win a golf tournament?” he added about his ninth title on the Champions Tour. “It was a while ago. So be it. I missed every putt on the back nine and finally made one that counted.”

Good for him. And Ken Duke. It’s another thing that’s cool about this game. Old(er) guys are good.

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

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