Aug 16, 2013; Greensboro, NC, USA; Robert Streb stands on the 14th green during the second round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club. (Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports)
May 2, 2014
By Mark Janssen
Robert Streb admits, "It's crazy, isn't it?"
Crazy nice, is what it is, as Streb inches closer and closer to the winner's circle of the Professional Golf Association Tour.
As the 2009 Kansas State graduate is in the midst of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., he's doing so coming off a second-place finish last week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
"I hit it pretty well, and then some long putts dropped in. When that happens, the birdies can add up pretty quickly," said Streb, who made a 71-foot eagle putt and a couple more for birdies from 25-plus feet, which helped him to a 17-under total of 271.
That total was just two swings away from Zurich winner Seung-Yul Noh, and tied him for second with Andrew Svoboda.
"It's a big confidence boost," admitted Streb. "I've had enough birdies before, but some other miscues, some silly things here and there have hurt me. My goal is to continue to steadily improve and learn from mistakes and mental lapses."
Just seven tournaments into his second PGA season, others are taking notice in Streb's relatively quick rise into being a recognized player on the PGA Tour.
"Crazy, isn't it?" said Streb, in reference to earning $598,400 for his weekend rounds of 67, 66, 68 and 70.
Now with $808,606 in his pocket for seven events this year and two-year career earnings of $1.58 million, Streb advertises his sponsors with a True North Steel logo on the chest of his Perry Ellis golf shirt, plus a P.F. Chang's logo on the collar, while he slugs and finesses his Titleist golf balls around the course with Titleist golf clubs.
Oh yes, Streb also continues to represent his school as he wears a shade of purple shirt, and Footjoy shoes to match, on Sundays and marks his golf balls and signs autographs with a purple Sharpie marker.
While just 5-foot-10, 165-pounds in stature, Streb's swing has been clocked at 118 miles per hours, which on one drive Sunday sent his wounded dimpled golf ball sailing and rolling 367 yards, which is 70 yards farther than his season average.
Laughing, Streb said, "A little tailwind and firm ground never hurts. I didn't try to hit it that far, and really it isn't anything golfers pay attention to. It basically comes down to swing mechanics and timing. With those, you can hit it a long way without being overly strong."
What golfers do pay attention to is the short game, and in particular, the putting game.
"This week is the best I've putted," said Streb. "I need to continue that, plus improve on that shot from 125 (yards) in. The goal is to get it within 10 to 12 feet, so there's a good chance to make putts."
What last week's finish allows for Streb is the opportunity to be a bit more selective in his future scheduling.
"Last year I wore down a little, so this year one of my goals was to show up to events fresh and ready to go," said Streb, who drove from New Orleans to Charlotte earlier this week. "Right now I'm excited about getting this good finish under my belt. I was feeling relaxed throughout and excited to start a new tournament."
Coverage of the Wells Fargo Championship can be followed on PGATour.com and the Golf Channel today, while the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday will be shown live on CBS beginning at 2 p.m. (CT) each day.
CLIMBING THE FEDEX LADDER: With the second-place finish, Streb now stands in 73rd place on the FedEx Cup rankings, which was a jump of 80 positions in one week. An end-of-year placing in the top 70 qualifies a golfer for all invitationals the next year, while a top 30 placing qualifies a golfer for the tour championships.
Of a top 30 finish, Streb said, "It's possible. You never know. I just need to be play with even more consistency and focus only on the next tournament coming up."
This year, Streb is a perfect seven of seven in making cuts after making 12 of 25 opportunities last year as a rookie. With a stroke average of 70.3 that ranks 25th on the PGA Tour, Streb has shot in the 60s in 11 of his 27 rounds and has only one round over 73.
His previous high finishes this year were a tie for 14th at the Puerto Rico Open and a tie for 19th at the Farmers Insurance Open. Streb does have one professional victory with that coming with an 18-under par effort on the Web.com Tour in 2012 at the Mylan Classic in Canonsburg, Pa.
That win earned Streb $108,000... pocket change compared to last weekend.