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  1. From GD -- Streels is putting the Triton in play on Tour this weekend. What I found most interesting from the article: in 10 years Streelman has only had one driver contract for about half a season. How does a PGA Tour player put a driver in play designed by an armchair engineer? Very carefully... Kevin Streelman, who was a judge on Wilson Golf's Driver Vs. Driver television show is going to put the winning Triton DVD driver in play this week at the PGA Tour's CareerBuilder Challenge. In speaking with Streelman about the decision he made two things very clear: This was not a kneejerk decision and he's not contractually bound to do it. “Dead honest—I'm not getting any bonus and haven't signed anything contractual to play this club,” said Streelman, who does have an endorsement contract with Wilson, but it does not include the driver. “I love to support Wilson and the company, but for me to switch to this club it had to be as good if not better than what I was using before. I know some people will be saying, ‘Oh, he's getting paid a lot of money to switch' but that's not the case.” While it would be easy to raise an eyebrow to that statement, consider Streelman has played 10 years on the PGA Tour and only had a driver contract for half of one season. He has essentially used two drivers for the last six seasons. It's not an easy club to get in Streelman's bag. “I'm very particular about my driver,” said Streelman, a winner of two PGA Tour events. “It's the best club in my bag year to year. I've been top 20, 30 in driving most every year I've been on tour [he's been in the top 26 in strokes gained/driving three of the last four years]. I was all about being fun and supportive during the design process, but once I had a prototype to hit, I was going to be their toughest critic.” Now 38, Streelman knows he needs to find the right launch angle to spin ratio in order to keep up with the Justin Thomas' of the world. ShotLink shows Streelman's numbers at a shade over 11 degrees launch and 2,554 spin. Not bad, but not ideal. “Triton is high launch and low spin which for me is very exciting because I tend to have a spinnier ball flight,” noted Streelman. “I'm excited to see my swing launch it at 12 to 13 degrees with 2,200 to 2,300 rpms of spin. Before when I got that high on launch the spin was closer to 3,000. That difference can equate to 20 to 30 yards of roll on the firm fairways of the PGA Tour.” Streelman's testing process involves a significant amount of time on TrackMan gathering data using clubs built to specific specs. “Whenever a company wants me to try a club I say ‘it has to be this length; this shaft, tipped this amount, with this grip.' Basically I want to compare apples to apples,” said Streelman. After gathering his data from TrackMan, Streelman then goes on course. “You play practice rounds or money matches with it and it's amazing what you'll see on the golf course that you don't see on a range,” he said. “That's because we play at a different speed on the course. There's a different intention of the shot. There's the nerve factor. You have to play with some pressure to see how it truly performs. Then I'll take it to maybe a pro-am, then give it a shot in a tournament. That's how I do my business. It's critical to get it right and I'm a harsh critic. It's my livelihood and that of my family on the line. It has to be right.” Part of getting it right was arriving at the final setup. After extensive testing at his home course of Whisper Rock as well as TPC Scottsdale, Streelman arrived at a 9 degree clubhead with the loft setting at neutral. The adjustable sole plate is the lighter, 9-gram carbon fiber version (which Streelman says also helped reduce spin) and the weights are 6 grams in the heel, 6 grams in the back and 2 grams in the toe. The final piece was the shaft. “At first I struggled with it because we kept trying to build it to the same spec as my Ping G30, which I have used for three years now,” Streelman said. “I kept trying my Aldila Rogue shaft but it didn't feel right in the Triton. Then we tried some different shafts and one, the blue Oban Kiyoshi Tour Limited, clicked. I was seeing the ball flight I wanted with the lower spin.” All of which, along with taking some of ex-Chicago Bear and fellow Driver vs. Driver judge Brian Urlacher's money at Whisper Rock, has Streelman confident enough to put it in play in PGA Tour competition. “I'm really excited to see what this driver can do under tournament conditions,” said Streelman. “I had a great start in the fall and I hope this thing makes it in the bag all year and I win multiple times with it. You can't predict what the future will hold, but it'll be in the bag this week so we'll see.”
  2. Saw this little gem posted on the Twitter this morning.... Nicely done for the defending Traveller's Champ! Took me a minute to realize the numbers represent his scores on Sunday's back 9, with seven birdies in a row...
  3. As if we needed another reason... I'm sure most pros have similar commitment to worthy causes, but this story just tugs at the ol' heartstrings... Streelman helps make Masters wish come true Jason Sobel, Senior Golf Writer AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jennifer Couch first noticed some irregular behavior in her 11-year-old son, Ethan, two years ago. His hands trembled. His feet were sore. His balance was so poor that he struggled to put on his pants and tie his shoes. She took him to see their pediatrician on a Friday. Her voice quivering, she explained her concerns. By the time she offered her own diagnosis, tears were rolling down her cheeks. Between sobs, Jennifer told the doctor, "I think he's going to need brain surgery." Tests confirmed their deepest fears. Ethan had a tectal glioma. A brain tumor was blocking his body's ability to circulate spinal cord fluid, causing hydrocephalus and all of the other symptoms in his behavior. Four days later, he underwent surgery. Doctors discovered that the tumor, though benign, was inoperable. There was nothing they could do but continue monitoring him on a regular basis. When Ethan awoke from the surgery, a nurse entered his room. "I heard you were a champ," she told him. "So I want you to go home and think of a wish. Pick anything." He didn't need to go home to think. This was a boy who'd been carried around the golf course by Jennifer as a newborn while his father, Jeff, a former golf professional near their home in Spruce Grove, Alberta, would play nine holes. He'd grown to love the game. And so when offered one wish by that nurse, Ethan didn't hesitate. "I want to go to the Masters," he said. Kevin Streelman didn't know this story when he called Ethan on the morning of March 7, two days after his 13th birthday. The truth is, he knew absolutely nothing about Ethan, besides the fact that the boy had a wish to attend the year's biggest golf tournament and he wanted to make that wish come true. This week marks Streelman's fourth Masters appearance. The first time he played, in 2011, he invited his father to caddie for him in the traditional Par-3 Contest. The next time, his mother got the call. Last year, it was his father-in-law. Not long after qualifying again by winning the Travelers Championship, Streelman decided he wanted to offer the opportunity to someone who really deserved it. His daughter, Sophia, was born the previous December amidst pregnancy complications. She'd spent seven days in the NICU before coming home. Enduring that afforded him a matured perspective. "That changed a lot of the ways I see children," he says. "I have an entirely new appreciation for what parents with children having tough times are going through." Streelman contacted his local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He asked if there were any kids who had a wish to attend the Masters. Soon enough, he was calling Ethan with an offer. "Yeah, I know who you are," the boy replied when the pro golfer introduced himself. He didn't know why he was calling, though. Streelman explained that, as a Masters competitor, he was allowed to choose his caddie for Wednesday's event. He was choosing Ethan. The boy fell silent. His parents, each listening over speaker phone, began crying. When Ethan finally spoke, his voice was shaking. "I just wanted to go to the Masters," he'd later say. "I didn't expect this." He's now in Augusta, along with his entire family, two years removed from making his Masters wish, preparing to wear the famous white jumpsuit given to all caddies. The boy who owns a career-low score of 82 won't be bashful in the role, either. "I'll definitely make sure he's hitting the right club," he says with a confident laugh. As Ethan spends the afternoon with Streelman, he won't worry about the brain tumor. He won't worry about the MRI he'll undergo next week or the unknown long-term prognosis. He'll be too focused on having his wish come true. As for the man alongside him, he's just hoping to brighten the life of a kid who could use it. "I just want to open the door to someone and hopefully give him a great day after going through some rough times," Streelman says. "This isn't about me. It's about giving back. It's about using the opportunity that I have to make someone's wish come true."
  4. When you watch golf on TV, do you ever find yourself wondering what kind of person the guy swinging the club is? I was fortunate enough to meet a trio of touring pros at a Wilson Staff photo shoot a couple of months ago and am happy to report that they were three of the nicest gentlemen I've had the pleasure of meeting in any arena, never mind professional athletics. Today's 5 Questions Profile is with one of those gentlemen, a guy who spun one of the greatest finishing back-nine's to win a tournament in golf history, Kevin Streelman... MGS 5 Q's: While we were in Arizona, you were showing some of the drills you're working on – are you working towards a more Hogan-esque swing? What made Hogan's swing so timeless? What can a touring pro learn from his swing? How about your average 54-year-old 8 handicap (hypothetically speaking, of course)? KS: I have been a student of Ben Hogan's swing for quite some time now. My current coach Wayne Defrancesco has a tremendous understanding of the idiosyncricies of Hogans pivot movement and I work tediously on a daily basis to improve my own action. Hogan made great use of his space and creation of hip depth and rotation in a very athletic sequence. He spoke about the feeling of throwing a sidearm pitch or skipping a rock across a pond. When you get down to it, that simple feeling is the basis of Ben Hogan's swing. Practicing throwing a range ball in front of you down the range, feeling your hips deepen and open while your right elbow lags in front of your right hip. Practice this slowly and feel the athletic movement and sequencing that the best ball strikers all possess. MGS 5 Q's: You are the author of one of the greatest finishing stretches in golf history – 7 birdies on the last 7 holes to win in Hartford last summer. That may be the very definition of “being in the zone.” Could you feel yourself slipping into the zone? Were you aware of what you were doing? What did it feel like? Do you think you can train your brain for that kind of performance? KS: That back nine at TPC Hartford is an afternoon I will never forget! I made a really nice 10 foot birdie putt on 9 that had a double break to it. I read it perfectly and saw the ball go in with perfect speed. After poor approach shots on 10 and 11, I made two additional 8 foot putts just to save par. Then, starting at 12, the hole appeared to get bigger. I truly felt like I couldn't miss. I made a 12 footer, then 6, then 20, then 14, 40, 4, and 12 to finish. 10 one putts in a row, 7 birdies in a row, and a 28 to win my second PGA Tour event. It was a bit surreal. I didn't realize I had made them all in a row until after I signed my card. I was trying to go as low as possible as quickly as possible because I knew the leaders were not coming back to me. It almost seemed as everything slowed down a bit. There was not much thinking, simply trusting and reacting. It's hard to describe but the hole starts to appear larger, and the game becomes easy. I truly think it's 100% trust in your work, preparation, and abilities. There is no fear, worry, or concern. I felt free to both succeed and fail, and that's when greatness can occur! MGS 5 Q's: You've recently resigned with Wilson Staff – what does that relationship mean to you? Why do you choose to stay with Wilson? KS: Wilson Golf is the greatest organization I have ever been involved with. It truly is more of a family relationship than a business one. Being from the Chicagoland area had a tremendous impact on my decision to sign with Wilson Golf. We share many of the same core values and I feel as if I'm a valuable member on the design side of their equipment. The new FG Tour V4 irons and wedges are by far the best clubs I have ever hit. I don't think it's an accident that I have had my 2 best years on Tour since I have signed with Wilson Golf. I plan to represent the brand proudly for many years to come. MGS 5Q's: What are your goals for 2015? What would a successful season look like to Kevin Streelman? Which major would mean the most to you to win? KS: I have never been an individual to set out specific goals for an upcoming year. I strive diligently to improve on a daily basis. I want to improve as a husband, as a dad, as a son, a brother, in my faith, in my short game, my putting, and in my swing. Not particularly in that order. I love waking up and having the opportunity to get better. I almost enjoy the process of improving and the work associated with it more than the competition. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love competing but the process of making myself better has gotten me from a broke, mini-tour golfer to a top 50 player in the world. The Masters would be the one Major I would love to win over the others. Trust me, any of them would be nice, but putting on that green jacket would be the ultimate in professional golf. MGS 5 Q's: Your dream foursome – past, present or future – who are your three playing partners and why? What are the stakes? KS: Ben Hogan- He's the man, and I'd love to watch him swing in person Jack Nicklaus- He's also the man, and I'd love to watch him compete in person Michael Jordan- Growing up in Chicago, He's the man. Plus he can finance the wagers. 100 nassau, auto 2 downs (Personal note: On the day of the photo shoot, Kevin put in a loooong day, staying well into the early evening hitting shots on the course and then doing some voice overs for Wilson's TV commercials. When he was finally finished I asked for a few minutes to do this 5 Questions segments. He very politely asked if we could do it over the phone or via email because he wanted to get home in time for his baby daughter's bedtime. Any Dad who travels a lot knows this time is precious. We agreed I'd email him the questions and he'd get back to me. Quite honestly, I didn't expect to hear back, figuring this request wouldn't be anywhere near the top of a PGA Touring Pro's to-do list. Perfectly understandable because after all, we had just met that day, and I was "the press." Sonuvagun if he didn't email me back with some very thoughtful and insightful answers. I know who I'm rooting for Master's weekend! Classy guy.)
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