Persistent Duke wins his first at age 44

McClatchy news servicesJune 24, 2013 

Journeyman Ken Duke made a 21/2-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to beat Chris Stroud at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn. It was his first PGA Tour win in his 187th start.

Stroud had chipped in from 51 feet on the 18th hole at the TPC River Highlands course to force the playoff.

The 44-year-old Duke made the better approach shot on the second extra hole, bouncing his close to the flag.

“I’ve knocked on the door a lot, and here we are,” said Duke, a pro since 1994.

Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters champion who earned his first PGA Tour victory at the Travelers in 2010, was in the lead until he took a triple-bogey 6 from the water at No. 16.

Duke, ranked 144th in the world, earned his first trip to the Masters next year.

“You gotta believe in yourself in everything you do,” Duke said.

Puyallup’s Ryan Moore closed with a 2-under 68 and tied for seventh, his third top-10 finish this year.

Former University of Washington star Chris Williams, in his pro debut, shot a 69 and tied for 30th.

Putnams in top 10

Raleigh, N.C., native Chesson Hadley shot a final-round 64 for a two-shot win at the Tour’s Rex Hospital Open in his hometown.

Hadley rallied from five strokes behind third-round leader Danny Lee to finish at 19-under 265 and earned $112,500 for his first win on the tour.

The Putnam brothers from Tacoma, tour money leader Michael and rookie Andrew, both finished in the top 10.

Michael Putnam shot a 2-under 69 to finish sixth. Andrew Putnam, the first-round leader after a 62, closed with a 71 to tie for seventh, his second top-10 finish of the season.

Stadler tops Couples

Craig Stadler birdied four of the first six holes, then hung on to win the Encompass Championship by one stroke over Fred Couples by sinking a par-saving 12-foot putt on the final hole.

Stadler, 60, broke a stretch of more than eight years between victories on the Champions Tour for players 50 and older.

Stadler shot a 1-under 71 at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill., to finish at 13-under 203. Couples’ final-round 66 put him at 12 under, but he bogeyed the final hole.

Park comes through

World No. 1 Inbee Park sank a 4-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole against So Yeon Ryu, capping her final-round rally to win the LPGA Northwest Arkansas title in Rogers, Ark.

Park, who won the LPGA Championship two weeks ago, has seven wins in her last 23 starts.

Park began the day two shots behind.

Els wins in Munich

Ernie Els of South Africa won the BMW International Open by one shot for his 28th European Tour title.

He closed with a third straight 3-under 69 to finish at 18-under 270 in Munich.

Thomas Bjorn of Denmark shot a 69 and finished a stroke behind.

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