Sunday, August 3, 2014

Meeting Kevin Streelman

Everyone roots for the big names on Tour.  Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, they all move the needle.  They're major champions.  And they have millions of fans. 

But as easy as it is to root for these players, it's even easier to root for Wilson Golf staff pro Kevin Streelman. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Streelman at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational this week.  And I can tell you assuredly, Streelman's as down-to-earth and real a person as you'll ever meet

A lot of players don't really speak with you when signing autographs.  That's understandable.  They usually won't shake hands.  And you can't blame them, they're often tired and only have so much time.  But Streelman is different. 


As Streelman signed my Wilson Staff 8802 putter headcover, we exchanged a few words, like old friends, and also shook hands before he went back to practice. 

I barely had enough time to wish Streelman good luck, before a group of strangers approached me and asked what we talked about.  So I told them I won a new Wilson Staff 8802 putter in a contest that celebrated Streelman's victory at the Traveler's Championship this year. 

And that Streelman came from behind to win the Traveler's by making seven-consective birdies on the final seven holes, the only player in Tour history to ever do that. 

Streelman's victory celebration at the Traveler's was wild.  He ran through the crowd slapping hands with everyone in the gallery.  It was the kind of scene you only see in the movies. 

So Wilson Golf decided it'd be fun to have a contest asking golfers, "How would you celebrate seven consecutive birdies?"  And my celebration was "The Streelman Splash."  


It made me chuckle when everyone then followed Streelman back to the putting green to watch him practice. 

Streelman had a rough week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, beginning in the opening round when his ball somehow stuck to the side of a tree, about eye-level, embedding under some bark.  How does that even happen? 


But when I saw Streelman again a few days later, during the rain delay on Saturday, he still smiled, waved, and said, "Hi Pete." 

Streelman's story is compelling.  He's guided by wholehearted love for family, unwavering and steadfast faith, and an iron-will that only comes from rugged persistence and dedication. 

And after 12 years of caddying, grinding on mini-tours, and plugging away on Tour, Streelman earned his first PGA Tour victory in 2013. 

Let's face it, we're often fans of professional athletes simply because they're professional athletes. 

I'm a fan of Kevin Streelman, just because he's Kevin Streelman. 

Follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas

1 comment:

  1. This is great and I wholeheartedly agree with your view of Streels.

    I've followed him a few times at The Memorial Tournament and have seen some great golf and even better sportsmanship. In 2013, during the Thursday round, Streels was in a group that included on of the invited amateurs. They were on the green, Steels was inside the ropes and about 8 feet behind me. The amateur missed his downhill putt, which went off the green. I gave a glance toward Kevin and he said, "Wow, you never want that to happen!".

    It is understandably very rare for a Tour pro to talk to fans during a competitive round, let alone start a conversation! It was a cool moment for me, one that I won't soon forget.

    Thanks for posting this, I hope that Kevin picks up a lot of new fans after reading your post.