Kevin Streelman's bid to keep his 16-year FedExCup Playoffs streak alive
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Written by Paul Hodowanic @PaulHodowanic
BLAINE, Minn. – Kevin Streelman always assumed he would stop at age 45. Spend five years at home with the family, then head back out on the road for PGA TOUR Champions, he thought.
“I brought that up to my wife and she's like, you'd be crazy, you'd go crazy at home after two weeks sitting around,” he said.
Maybe that’s why he’s still out on TOUR at 44 with no plans to stop. Or maybe it’s because his play has never given him a reason to quit.
Adam Scott and Matt Kuchar are the only two golfers to qualify for every iteration of the FedExCup Playoffs since its inception in 2007. Kevin Streelman wasn’t on TOUR in 2007. He was locking up his card in Q-School. But he qualified for the Playoffs as a rookie in 2008, finishing 35th. He hasn’t missed one since.
“If you would have told me I'd be out here 16 straight years and still doing this and having a chance to win things, I'd have said you're crazy,” he said.
Kevin Streelman carries water to set up eagle at 3M Open
Crazy as it may seem, Streelman is in contention once again at the 3M Open and he needs to stay there if he wants to make his 16th consecutive FedExCup Playoffs. Currently 120th in the standings, only a win would lock in a spot in the top 70. After posting a first-round 64, Streelman followed with a round of 68 on Friday to jump to 10-under, which held the lead for most of the afternoon.
It’s a position Streelman has seldom been in this year. He knows why. Typically an above-average driver on TOUR, Streelman is losing strokes off-the-tee for the first time in his lengthy career. A frequent wipey fade is the culprit, rendering Streelman’s biggest asset useless.
That is until last week. Staying in his native Chicago, Ill., last week for The Streels, a golf tournament he put on with the Illinois Junior Golf Association, Streelman stopped at the house of longtime friend and coach Jake Thrum. Equipped with 3-D technology in his garage, Thrum put Streelman’s swing under a microscope and found a slight irregularity with the position of his rib cage at address. While Streelman’s hips and shoulder were square to his target, his rib cage was actually 20 degrees open, not allowing him to make a complete backswing. As a result, Streelman was too often losing stability and throwing his hands at the ball, causing the consistent and unwanted fade. Now Streelman sets up for a shot and wants to feel his rib cage closing to the target. What may seem like a minor tweak has “been a pretty drastic change for me,” he said.
“It’s nice to have some like scientific data, empirical data, proof of what I'm kind of I've been doing wrong. So all of a sudden, (I) believe in that and oh, yeah, there we go. Once we get that feeling that we know is right, like it's kind of off to the races sometimes,” he said.
That’s the case through two rounds at TPC Twin Cities. Streelman is third in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, gaining nearly three shots on the field thus far. He’s hit 23 of 28 fairways. It helped him avoid making a bogey on Friday, despite an iffy 33-putt effort on the greens.
He will need the putter to cooperate to move into the top 70. Only a win will move him inside the Playoff bubble.
Streelman has seen it happen before. Jim Herman moved from No. 192 to No. 54 with a win at the season-ending 2020 Wyndham Championship. That came after missing three of his last four starts. Streelman has missed three of the previous five cuts.
“It's what I love about our sport, too. I think it would be depressing to be on a bad baseball team and like at the end of the season, you know you can't get to the playoffs,” he said.
Streelman has a path – albeit a difficult one. But the chance to resurrect his season and his Playoffs streak remains.