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Golf: Duke wins first PGA title in Travelers playoffs

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Ken Duke sank a two-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole Sunday to defeat fellow American Chris Stroud and win the $6.1 million Travelers Championship for his first US PGA title.

The 44-year-old from Hope, Arkansas -- hometown of former US President Bill Clinton -- took the $1.08 million top prize and became the oldest first-time US PGA Tour winner since Ed Dougherty won his only title at age 47 in 1995.

"I worked hard, I have knocked on the door a lot and here we are," Duke said. "That's what it's all about."

Duke had been a runner-up three times in PGA events -- at New Orleans in 2007 and Milwaukee and the Ginn sur Mer Classic in 2008.

Stroud, a 31-year-old Texan whose best prior PGA finish was a share of fourth at the 2011 Mayakoba Classic in Mexico, sank a 48-foot chip shot for a birdie at the 18th on the last hole of regulation play to force a playoff.

Duke and Stroud both finished 72 holes on 12-under par 268. Duke fired a final-round 66, five-under par, while Stroud shot 67.

The playoff began at the 18th tee and Duke found the left rough, but blasted a wedge shot pin high onto the green. Stroud, whose tee shot was in the fairway 92 yards from the cup, then dumped his approach into a greenside bunker.

Stroud blasted out seven feet from the cup and Duke followed by leaving his 30-foot birdie putt inches from the cup for a tap-in par.

Stroud then sank his tension-packed par putt to extend the playoff, both men going to the 18th tee for the third time Sunday.

Duke knocked his second shot, a sand wedge from 117 yards out, just two feet from the cup, while Stroud left himself 20 feet for birdie.

Stroud's putt rolled inches right and he tapped in for par. Moments later, Duke tapped in for the long-sought victory and pumped his right fist in celebration.

In the final round, Duke birdied the par-4 second after putting his 93-yard second shot two feet from the cup and began the back nine with back-to-back birdies. He added a birdie at the par-5 13th, answered a bogey at 14 by making birdie at 15, and parred in to seize the clubhouse lead.

That forced Stroud to birdie 18 to match Duke, which he did.

Canada's Graham DeLaet was third on 269 with American Bubba Watson fourth on 270.

DeLaet, who is donating part of his winnings this week to the flood relief efforts in Calgary, took a bogey at the sixth but responded with birdies at the ninth and 12th to stay in the hunt before a bogey at 16 dropped him two back.

DeLaet needed an eagle at 18 to catch Duke. When his approach landed three feet left of the cup, the two-man playoff was set, even though he tapped in for birdie to finish alone in third.

Watson, trying to win for the first time since capturing last year's Masters title, curled in a six-foot birdie putt at the 15th to take a one-shot lead over Duke, but was undone on his very next shot.

Watson found a water hazard off the tee at the par-3 16th. He was short of the green on his second try, then missed a 25-foot putt for double bogey on his way to a 6 on the hole that dropped him two back and put Duke on top to stay.

"There's no reason for me to show up," a disheartened Watson said on the 16th green.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130623/golf-duke-wins-first-pga-title-travelers-playoffs