Robert Streb wins three-way playoff for first PGA Tour victory
Two items on Robert Streb’s bucket list are attending an Oklahoma-Texas football game and playing at Augusta National.
He never could have guessed which would be the first one scratched off the list.
Streb closed with a 7-under-par 63 on Sunday and won the McGladrey Classic with the most significant shot of his young career, an 8-iron to 4 feet for birdie on the second extra hole of a three-man playoff at Sea Island that helped secure a trip to the Masters next April.
"One is easier to get to. I just haven’t done it yet," Streb said with a smile. "Definitely thought I would have made that game by now."
Winning the McGladrey Classic for his first PGA Tour victory was no picnic.
He opened the tournament with a duck-hook into a bush for double bogey and spent the next two days worried about making the cut. He began the final round Sunday five shots out of the lead and made bogey from a fairway bunker on the first hole. Right when he was making a run, he three-putted for bogey on the 13th hole to fall four shots behind with only five holes to play.
The rest was a blur, and then a long wait.
Streb ran off four straight bogeys to finish at 14-under 266. He waited 90 minutes to see if it would stand, and then faced Brendon de Jonge and Will MacKenzie in a playoff.
MacKenzie was eliminated on the first playoff hole with a bogey from the bunker. On the par-3 17th, where two hours earlier Streb had rolled in a 30-foot putt to tie for the lead, he hit 8-iron that never left the flag until it plopped down right behind the hole.
"What can you do? He hit a great shot," said de Jonge, who closed with a 65. "And as I said, it’s nice for him to have a birdie. It’s a good way to win the tournament."
Streb, who grew up at Oak Tree just north of Oklahoma City, never felt more pressure than over his final two putts. On the first playoff hole, he ran his 35-foot birdie putt about 4 feet by the hole and had to make that just to stay in the playoff. The next putt he had was for the win.
"I was pretty nervous over those short putts, but managed to work it out, and things went in my favor," Streb said.
Very little has gone according to plan for Streb in his career.
He wanted to be a Sooner, but the Oklahoma golf team had no scholarship to offer and Streb felt he was only good enough to be a walk-on at Oklahoma State. So he took a scholarship to Kansas State, not exactly a golf mecca, and made sure he earned a degree in marketing in case golf didn’t work out.
It took three years to reach the PGA Tour. He had to earn his way back. Two months ago in his first FedEx Cup playoff experience, he thought he had advanced to the third playoff event until he was bumped out by two points when Jason Day made a birdie putt on the last hole.
"You’re obviously not going to achieve all your goals right from the get-go," Streb said. "Well, at least I didn’t."
He has now. A PGA Tour winner. A trip to the Masters, along with Kapalua and the PGA Championship and other invitation-based events he has never played. His wife Maggie, whom he met at Kansas State, is expecting their first child in February.
A long road to be sure, but it sure felt worth it on Sunday.
De Jonge opened with three straight birdies to get in the hunt, and rolled in two more on the 10th and 12th holes. He missed a 10-foot birdie chance on the par-5 15th, and a 20-foot birdie chance on the final hole.
"I didn’t birdie the par 5 in regulation. I had a very easy bunker shot, but other than that, I didn’t leave much out there," de Jonge said.
MacKenzie also failed to make birdie on No. 15, missing from about 10 feet. He bounced back from a three-putt bogey on the 16th by making a 5-foot birdie on the 17th, and then two-putting from 80 feet from short of the 18th green to shoot 68 and join the playoff.
Andrew Svoboda, who started the final round tied for the lead with MacKenzie, twice had the outright lead with birdies on the front nine and he remained tied after 10 holes. He made back-to-back bogeys, and then dropped another shot on the 14th and never caught up. Svoboda closed with a 71 and tied for eighth.
Defending champion Chris Kirk closed with a 67 and was in the group that finished two shots behind in a tie for fourth. Kevin Chappell went out in 30 to get within one shot of the lead, only to par every hole on the back nine for a 65 to finish three shots back.