By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
CROMWELL, Conn. -- Ken Duke is 44 and his instructor, Bob Toski is 86. That’s 130 years of experience and the pair have revamped Duke’s game. He managed a draw before Toski took over, and that hook is now a gentle fade. It was good enough for Duke to hit 44 of 56 fairways this week and 14 of 14 on Saturday. The pair do not rely on computers or video.
Toski’s eyes are still good enough to analyze and correct a golf swing. The short game was solid this week with putting rounds of 30-27-24-25. That 106 total was the second fewest putts in the tournament. At 44, after 187 starts on the PGA TOUR, Duke is now a champion.
Bounces: Every tournament winner gets some good breaks and Duke’s good fortune came on the 10th hole. His approach hit a tree to the left of the green and rebounded back onto the putting surface. It was incredible good fortune but, to Duke’s credit, he took advantage of the break and made the birdie putt. That’s a possible three shot swing.
Final round: It’s not a trend, but it is something that has to concern Charley Hoffman. He has struggled on Sundays this season. Hoffman has been in contention to win six times and has shot 75 or higher five times. A hole-out from a greenside bunker on the 18th hole, gave Hoffman a 72 in the final round and T7. Hoffman entered the week ranked 162nd in fourth-round scoring average at 72.75.
Weather: Throughout the first 11 holes the wind was gusty and bothersome but it wasn’t until golfers arrived on the 12th tee that players felt just how hard the wind was blowing. The 12th runs straight to the south and it was surprising how hard the wind was gusting. It was as if somebody turned on a giant fan. Several holes at TPC River Highlands are sheltered by trees, but the 12th is totally exposed and players felt the full fury for the first time.
Hard hole: When you discuss TPC River Highlands, the 15th and 17th holes are always critical but it was the 16th that inflicted the most pain in the final round. It was the second hardest hole on the course, playing to a stroke average of 3.311. The hole sits beyond a lake in a natural amphitheater that makes it hard to judge the wind. Bubba Watson hit into the water and made triple bogey, Graham DeLaet narrowly
avoided the hazard and made bogey. There were just eight birdies on the hole in the final round with 26 scores of bogey or higher.
Hat trick: Julien Trudeau caddies for Graham DeLaet and pulls off a hat trick every week. He wears a hat representing one of the local sports teams. It’s a way to honor the community and generate a little local support. This week, Julian sported a Hartford Whalers hat and elicited plenty of shouts from the gallery.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here