Former K-State golfer Robert Streb cruises to victory in Watson Challenge

06/15/2014 6:49 PM

06/15/2014 11:31 PM

Even Father’s Day couldn’t stop Mother Nature from making an appearance.

After stormy conditions caused a two-hour rain delay in the final round of The Watson Challenge at The Country Club at Loch Lloyd, Mother Nature eased up long enough for a new champion to be crowned.

Robert Streb, a current PGA Tour member and former Kansas State golfer, won the title with a record-setting performance on Sunday. He shot 8-under par 64, an event record, and finished three rounds at 8-under at 208 in his Watson Challenge debut.

Streb said he had no idea that he set the record until it was announced at the awards ceremony.

“I was just trying to make as many birdies as I could because I didn’t know what everybody else was going to do,” he said.

Streb birdied eight holes in the third round and made pars on the other 10 holes. He finished 5 shots ahead of Tom Watson, Zac Gavlak of Prairie Village and amateur Jon Troutman of Spring Hill.

Watson shot his best round of the tournament on Sunday with a 4-under 68. Still, the defending champion had to give up his reign — at least for one year.

“I have to give credit to Robert,” Watson said. “He just played lights out on the back nine.”

For Streb, who moved to Shawnee in December with his wife Maggie, who is from Kansas City, the Challenge marked his first time meeting Watson.

“I met him on the range this morning,” Streb said. “It was nice to get to meet him. He’s obviously a huge golf icon and everybody in the city loves him so it was a pleasure to get to meet him.”

Watson was impressed with Streb, too. It’s not often someone defeats Watson in his own tournament.

Before Sunday, he had only lost twice (2007 and 2012) in the previous seven years of the Challenge.

“He’s had a very good year on the PGA Tour and just grateful for him to be able to play in The Watson Challenge and take part in this event,” Watson said of Streb. “Again, we’re trying to determine the best golfer in Kansas City. Certainly, Robert is that guy.”

As the winner of the tournament, Streb was awarded $10,000, which he said he will donate to The First Tee of Greater Kansas City, a youth development program designed to teach positive values through golf.

“It was nice to help out the community,” he said. “We were out for a week in between events and it panned out well so I figured we could donate and help out.”

A $50,000 donation was also presented to The First Tee from the tournament committee.

Next on Streb’s list is a trip to Connecticut to play in the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship, which starts Thursday.

For Watson, the end of another tournament marks another successful year. While there may come a time when he no longer plays in the tournament, Watson said he hopes it will be around for a long time.

Next year’s tournament will be played at Mission Hills.

“Seeing some of the youngsters here play in this tournament this week, it reminds me of me back when I was in my teens wanting to play against the best players in Kansas City,” he said. “The whole point of this tournament was to create a tournament that was the best tournament in Kansas City, that had the best players compete against each other, and I think we’ve achieved that.”

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