A week ago after putting out on the 72nd hole, Justin Rose pointed upward to honor his father who passed away twelve years ago. This Sunday, Ken Duke made a similar gesture…to thank the tree on the 10th hole at TPC River Highlands for giving his ball a fortuitous kick onto the green.
Naturally, Duke’s nod to that tree makes the top of this week’s list.
*Ken Duke pays tribute to tree: Duke, a 44-year-old journeyman, got a few lucky bounces on his way to his first PGA Tour victory, but sometimes you need those and get ‘em when it’s your week. “It did hit the tree,” said Duke, laughing. “It was going left. It hit the tree and I was pointing at the tree. I don’t know how it kicked back. You know, I’ve seen stuff like that happen before, when you don’t expect it and ended up making the putt, which was great, but I did point at the tree and say thank you. You need breaks like that every once in a while.”
Duke’s swing coach, Bob Toski, won this same event for his maiden victory 60 years ago in 1953. Now that’s something special.
“Got down to Florida and ended up meeting Mr. Toski,” said Duke. “He said, ‘Come see me.’ So I went to see him in 2006 in January. And with my back problems he made me swing the golf club, it seemed like it was easier. And no one’s ever told me the way to swing the club.
“I mean the guy has played with Hogan, Snead and Demaret and all of them. And sometimes I go down to his place and we just talk. We might not even hit any balls. And I had a great session with him last week on Wednesday and I was swinging really good.
“The way he says things, it might be all the same, but it seems like it’s different every time we talk and every time we’re on the range. And that’s the knowledge of somebody like that, because he’s played with the best. He’s taught the best. He’s amazing. And I wouldn’t be here now if I would have never met him. He’s just a special guy.”
*Ken Duke’s celebratory fist-pumping into the camera, bro-style: On the second extra hole in the duel against Chris Stroud, Duke hit a perfect drive to a perfect lie and then a perfect wedge to two-and-a-half feet. He made his birdie and then looked right into the CBS camera and gave a manly reaction. See the GIF here.
*Chris Stroud chips in on the 72nd hole to force playoff: This was pretty unreal. I was standing right there and I froze for a second, forgetting Stroud needed that chip from behind the green to go in to get in a playoff with Duke. Stroud said he was trying to make it. He deserves props for the effort.
“I was walking up to the green and I told my caddie, I said, ‘Let’s chip this thing in,’” said Stroud. “That’s what we practice all the time, and probably only one out-of-a-20 shot, but it went in. And it was fun. It was just as exciting for me as it was for the fans, and I think I almost lost my voice a little bit.”
*Graham DeLaet giving back and another close call: The Canadian birdied the 72nd hole to earn solo third honors, but a few sloppy shots on nos. 15 and 16 cost him a playoff. He hit a beautiful chip to four feet on no. 15 and missed the putt and then his tee shot on the 16th got caught in a gust of wind. Oh well, at least he made a lot of money for charity. This week’s ATB Financial Classic presented by TELUS on PGA Tour Canada was canceled due to heavy rains and flooding. DeLaet, a past champion of the ATB Financial Classic, announced that he would donate $1,000 for each birdie and $2,500 for each eagle he made this weekend at TPC River Highlands. DeLaet rolled in nine birdies, which was matched by PGA Tour Canada and ATB Financial for a total of $27,000.
Another businessman also promised to match DeLaet’s donation, so that means he raised $36,000 total.
“Hopefully it puts a small dent in what they need,” said DeLaet. “But our hearts are still with them.”
*Hats off to Justin Rose for honoring his commitment to play in the Travelers Championship, and then even contending. He lost some steam on the back nine and ended up shooting one-over 71 and finished T13. Good job, good effort from the U.S. Open champ.
“I think I was just a little clumsy today when I needed to be sharp,” said Rose. “I think the proof’s in the pudding, you know. Getting to nine-under and having a chance not being able to kind of finish it out cleanly, I think that shows probably more fatigue than anything. I’m still able to put one foot in front of the other. I think I’m still okay, but I guess it’s just that little bit of sharpness that I might be lacking.”
*Bubba Watson’s meltdown on 16 cost him the tourney. He took his anger out on his caddie. Not the best look, dude.