Robert Streb is usually sporting a big smile these days.
Streb is happy after becoming a father for the first time, and he is off to the best start of his career this season on the PGA Tour.
“Everything is going well,” Streb said. “It is a really exciting time for me.”
Streb, a 27-year-old resident of Shawnee, is most proud that his wife, Maggie, gave birth to their first daughter, Catherine, on Feb. 3.
“It has been a wonderful experience,” Streb said. “Becoming a father has really put things in perspective.”
Since becoming a father, Streb has spent quite a bit of time at home with his family, but he returned to action Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla., as he prepares to play next month in The Masters.
Streb recently got to visit Augusta National, site of The Masters, and get in a practice round. Streb said the course will provide a great challenge as he plays in a major championship for the first time.
“You spend so much time watching Augusta on TV as a kid,” Streb said. “I am very thrilled and just excited to see what playing in one is like.”
Streb was born in 1987 in Chickasha, Okla., and he watched The Masters while growing up in Edmond, Okla.
He helped Edmond North High School win a state team championship during his senior year, but he didn’t get a scholarship offer from Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, his top college choices.
However, Kansas State coach Tim Norris saw promise in Streb, and Strebhe decided to accept a scholarship offer and play for the Wildcats.
“He was the one who sent me my first recruiting letter, so that meant a lot to me,” Streb said. “I knew that he had played on the PGA Tour, and that is something that he has always helped me with.”
During his career at Kansas State, Streb said he benefited from playing a lot at Colbert Hills, where he got a lot of practice playing in windy conditions, and meeting former K-State and PGA Tour star Jim Colbert. Streb got to know Colbert while he was roommates for a couple of years with Colbert’s grandson, Curtis Yonke.
Streb qualified for the NCAA tournament as a freshman, missing the cut after 54 holes, and earned honorable mention All-America status as a senior.
Colbert said he is proud of the way Streb has developed since leaving Kansas State.
“He’s got a really good mentality for pro golf,” Colbert said. “He never gets too high or too low. You play so much in the PGA Tour now, you are going to have bad weeks. You have to deal with the hard times, and Robert is really good at that.
“I think he has what it takes to be successful. He is a really good person. He likes to have a good time, but he does it the right way.”
Streb graduated from Kansas State with a degree in marketing, then spent time on developmental tours before earning his PGA Tour card with a sixth-place finish on the Web.com Tour’s money list in 2012.
Streb had five top-25 finishes in 25 starts and earned $454,871 during his first year on the Tour. A turning point in Streb’s career came last April, when Streb finished second in the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic.
“That second at the Zurich was pretty big for me,” Streb said. “I just feel like I am trying to improve, trying to get better.”
That showing helped Streb earn $1.3 million during the 2013-2014 season, and his solid play has continued this season. Streb gained his first PGA Tour victory on Oct. 26 when he won the McGladrey Classic in Sea Island, Ga. Streb rallied from a 5-shot deficit in the final round and then won the event on the second hole of a playoff against Brendon de Jonge and Will MacKenzie.
Maggie Streb was as thrilled as her husband when he won.
“I stayed pretty calm the whole time,” she said at the time. “I knew whatever happens is meant to happen. I got a little nervous on the 17th hole during the playoff, after Brendon missed his putt and (Robert) was putting.
“I was just excited for him and excited that all of his hard work has paid off.”
The victory guaranteed Streb full playing status on the PGA Tour for two years as well as a spot in this year’s Masters and PGA Championship.
Streb once said that his personal bucket list included attending an Oklahoma-Texas football game and playing at Augusta National, site of The Masters in Augusta, Ga.
While Streb hopes to eventually see the annual Red River Rivalry football game, he got his first look at Augusta National during a recent practice round.
“That is his kind of course with his length,” Colbert said. “Over time, he’ll fit really well at The Masters.”
Streb said the best part of being a pro golfer is getting to play a lot of the courses he saw on television while watching golf as a kid.
“Obviously, you catch all of the courses in the very best condition one week of the year, which is pretty cool,” he said. “You get spoiled a little bit.
“It’s just fun to play against the best in the world.”
Streb said he didn’t realize until he got on the PGA Tour just how many good golfers there are.
“I came out of college thinking that there were some good players,” Streb said. “But I thought, ‘How many could there really be?’ There are quite a few.”
Streb is among the best players these days, ranking fifth in this season’s PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings and 10th on the season money list with $1.7 million in earnings.
Streb said he hasn’t set a lot of goals for the rest of this season, but he does hope to qualify for the U.S. Open and British Open.
Streb said a key will be to improve his short game.
“I just try to keep getting better, little by little,” Streb said. “I just try to keep improving.”
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