Ken Duke, a 44-year old journeyman who first turned pro about 130 dog years ago, won for the first time on PGA Tour with a compelling playoff win in the Travelers Championship. At the same time, on another channel, Craig Stadler, who has not won in almost nine years turned the glass slipper back into patent leather making a slippery 12-foot par putt on 18 to claim the Encompass Championship on the Apostle Tour. There was unbridled celebration in dog pounds all over the country in response to these two unlikely victories.
For an old guy Ken Duke knows how to win with panache. From a very nasty lie in the right rough on the last hole in regulation he managed to gerrymander a par to hold his one-shot lead at 12-under. But the preparation of his acceptance speech in the scorer’s tent was rudely interrupted when Chris Stroud did a Tom Watson imitation holing a 51-foot chip shot on 18 to force a playoff.
Duke’s drive on 18 in the first playoff hole was abysmal left but once again he played a brilliant approach and made par, forcing Stroud to make an 8-footer to prolong the playoff. The third time through the 18th Duke ran out of bad places to hit his tee ball and from the center of the fairway staked a wedge to 30 inches to set up the winning birdie.
The only real anomaly in this was in the post game green side interview with Feherty. Duke credited his recent plane ride experience with Feherty and McCord as his ticket to the winner’s circle. Apparently associating with people who are clinically out of their mind is helpful to managing your nerves down the stretch in a PGA Tour event.
This old dog won the 2011 Nationwide Tour Championship which got him full time status on the PGA Tour. Since then Duke has taken full advantage of his opportunities making 22 of 30 cuts and winning $1,500,000 in 2012. He has had his moments this season with 2 other top tens to go with this win and total earnings of $1,600,000. This could go a long way to making the premium payments on a long term geriatric health insurance plan.
In the alter space tour event the Walrus had an out of body experience, which in his case is a major event, playing flawless golf the first eight holes to build a five-shot lead. But reality returned and he made four bogies over the next nine holes bringing young Freddie back into the mix. A salty up-and-down from the green side bunker culminating with that 12-foot birdie putt made for a very popular Koo-Koo-Katchoo moment for the Walrus.
The mellow yellow attitude of the Champions Tour was captured in Freddie’s post game comment when he said, “Obviously I wanted to make the putt on 18 to have a chance at a playoff, but to see him make that putt, it was really, really important to him, and the crowd was really pulling for him. I couldn’t be happier for him. You’ve got a great champ.”
Sunday was a day, like my daughter is apt to say, that they let the old dogs roll in the grass, with their feet in the air, like they just don’t care.