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Home For Streelman, dreams do come true

It wasn’t that long ago (or so it seems) when the golf community, especially media, rallied around an underdog that finally broke through. Those days are in the rear view mirror as it’s more about attracting eyeballs, which helps to explain the sudden attention devoted to Tiger Woods and his girlfriend. I guess we are back in high school (or so it seems)!

Kevin Streelman’s story qualifies as one of perseverance and dedication. The man most recognizable for his one word, line in Wilson Golf commercials, “Seriously,” came to Phoenix in 2002 to play the Gateway Tour. It didn’t go very well. Those aren’t my words, they’re his. “I don't know if I made a cut. Got my butt kicked. Lost all my money,” he recalled. Streelman said he left with his head down and went back to Chicago only to be abandoned by another group of sponsors in San Diego a year late. He reached out to one of the guys who had backed that lived in Cota de Caza, CA. “I gave him a call, said, I don't know what to do, I have no money,” Streelman revealed. “I had just Monday qualified for Pebble the week before and missed at Torrey. Called guys in Chicago and to this day they have not picked up the streelmanphone,” he continued. “I was there, had about $400 to my name, could have driven back to Chicago and my family or stick it out. They kind of gave me some money to get going back on the Hooters Tour and played all right,” he said telling part of his journey to becoming a PGA TOUR winner.

His time in the desert, while not productive initially, called him back. “Fell in love with the area. I love Scottsdale,” he said. Streelman met a girl, as the story goes and made his way back to the Valley of the Sun. “And then Courtney and I met, wanted to get back to Scottsdale, caddied at Whisper Rock and scrubbing clubs at Kierland Golf Course on the weekdays, worked from about 6:00 to 1:00 and I would play golf from 2:00 till dark, and on the weekends I would caddie up at Whisper Rock in order to actually make decent money,” he said. Now isn’t this story more deserving of your attention that someone else’s love life???

“2007 was my last year on the mini‑tours. I won four times. I was leading the Gateway and Hooters Tour Monday list, one time, and just felt really confident the way I was playing. My course average was close to 66 or 66 and 1/2 that summer so I went to Q-School sky-high,” he said. Streelman was on his way but there are always a few minor points to get resolved. “I burned out three cars. Two, I put 250,000 to 400,000 miles on.  Started with my mom's Altima, and then my own Altima and then I got a Camry,” he said. His rookie year on the PGA TOUR was 2008 and he got a call from the owner of Whisper Rock, where he caddied to “make some decent money,” not that long before. “Greg Tryhus called me. I was at Puerto Rico and invited me to join him at Whisper Rock. Won the club championship my rookie year,” Streelman said. “Went from caddie to club champion at Whisper Rock which is a pretty cool story.” He beat another long time PGA TOUR member and Valley of the Sun resident, Billy Mayfair. Folklore has it that everyone, regardless of who they are pays the going freight to join the elite and private Whisper Rock. Streelman backed it up when he said, “Nobody gets a break. Everyone pays the exact same.” So much for the days of scrubbing clubs or caddying to make ends meat.

He also knew it was time to upgrade another aspect of his life, but learned a valuable lesson along the way. “My rookie year when I got my TOUR card, I traded it in for a Nissan 350 z which was like my dream car at the time. My wife, my fiancée at the time, now my wife was not very happy with that decision and I learned quickly that I must discuss these financial decisions,” he said.

From 2008 all the way to 2013, Streelman kept his head down and never strayed too far from his intended goal.  “Always had a dream of getting here. And so to get this is the cumulation of a lot of hard work and a lot of time spent late into the evening and getting up early in the morning, and it's really a dream come true,” he said. Coming out on top is one thing, but doing so when there were plenty of times quitting would have been easier is a story worth telling.