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August 27 2010

7:29 PM

Streelman back in contention

Kevin Streelman knew he needed to play well this week. He was 102nd on the FedExCup list, after all, and only the top 100 advance to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship.

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Not only is Streelman playing well at Ridgewood, though, he's challenging for the title -- just like he did two years ago the first time the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup played its opener on the A.W. Tillinghast creation.

"It's exciting," said Streelman, who is 7 under through 36 holes. "Coming here as the bubble guy for next week, 100, 102 going into next week, it's a big goal to keep on going through the playoffs. You just have to stay patient. If an opportunity presents itself, making putts, playing well, take advantage of it and hopefully this weekend I can do that."

Streelman fired a 63 on Friday, the low round of the tournament so far, which was one stroke off the course record set by Hunter Mahan in 2008. The round included a 29 on the front side, his second nine of the day, which was preceded by a chip-in for birdie at No. 18.

"I think I had a little of pressure after I chipped in on 18 and birdied 1, and all of a sudden I was at like 1 or 2 under," Streelman said. "It was like, let's keep it going. Then the birdies started flowing after that. I was like while we're at it let's try to get to the top of the leaderboard. So I was able to do that."

The Duke grad was tied for the lead with Tiger Woods when he finished -- which was a big charge for the friends and family who turned out to support their favorite son. Streelman's parents grew up in nearby Glen Rock but moved to Chicago shortly before he was born. His grandparents are buried in a cemetery near Ridgewood's seventh hole.

His gallery on Friday primarily consisted of family members but Thursday's group also included a bunch of his fraternity brothers from Duke who work in New York City. The contingent this weekend -- particularly given Streelman's position in the tournament -- should be huge.

While others might see that support as added pressure, Streelman considers it "so much love and support that it's very encouraging" and his play two years ago was testament to that feeling. His round of 63 Thursday was further verification.

"(It) solidifies the fact I really love the golf course and love the area and the support I'm going to have out there this weekend," Streelman said. "And I'm going to do my best. And like I said, I said the last time, too, whether I shoot in the 80s or 60s, I'm going to have a good time and learn a little bit. So hopefully I've got a shot come Sunday afternoon."

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