SE: Streb’s Game Comes Together in Time to Qualify for Open Championship

Robert Streb knew he was close. Despite the missed cuts and the lack of high finishes, and despite where he stood in the FedEx Cup standings, Streb was confident he could get his 2017 season back on track. 

In one weekend, he did just that. Streb notched a second-place finish at The Greenbrier Classic, posting a 13-under 267 in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where he recorded four rounds in the 60s for the first time all season. 

“I’ve been playing pretty good,” Streb told K-State Sports Extra last week after a practice round at the John Deere Classic, where he made his sixth-straight cut and tied for 74th. “Everything was going pretty well. I just didn’t feel like I was getting a lot out of it and then it kind of came together (at The Greenbrier Classic).”

While he finished one shot away from the winner’s score at The Greenbrier Classic, Streb walked away with a heavy weight off of his shoulders. 

“It was really helpful,” Streb said of his best finish since tying for second at the same tournament in 2015. “It obviously changes things.”

To start, it guaranteed him a full-time spot on the PGA Tour next season and qualified him to play in this week’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in Southport, England. Streb also earned 300 FedEx Cup points to jump from 137 to 68 in the standings, well within the top 125 cutoff for the FedEx Cup Playoffs that starts with THE NORTHERN TRUST on August 24-27. 

“Obviously, I was a little sour about the finish because I would have rather won, but I was sitting on the wrong side of the 125, so it was a big week,” said Streb, who moved to 72nd in the standings after the John Deere Classic. “Instead of just trying to find a way to get into the playoffs, now you’re trying to put yourself in a good position where you can get two or three starts in the playoffs and hopefully make a good run.” 

For about a three-month stretch, Streb’s season and future didn’t look as promising. The K-State alum, in his fifth season on the PGA Tour, missed seven cuts in a nine-event stretch at one point, dropping to as low as 140 on the FedEx Cup standings. 

With his two-year exemption from winning The McGladrey Classic in 2015 expiring after this season, Streb needed to climb into the top 125 to guarantee his status for next season. 

“I just tried to get back to the basics, control what I could and hope it would get better,” Streb said. “And it did.” 

The improvement started by making the cut at four tournaments in a row, finishing all of them between 31st and 57th to lead up to his breakout performance in West Virginia. Having been through the inevitable ups and downs of professional golf before, Streb felt like it was only a matter of time before the results started to show in the form of better placements. And they did. 

“It felt like I was playing good, but I just wasn’t getting the finishes I thought I should get,” he said. “You know you can do it, so that helps, but obviously when you’re starting to run out of events, everybody starts to push a little bit and you’re hoping the right golf comes along.” 

For Streb, the right golf arrived just in time to send him to the third Open Championship of his career. He finished tied for 18th in 2015 at St. Andrews, a course he said suited his right-to-left ball flight, and missed the cut by one stroke last year at Royal Troon. 

“I’m pretty excited. It’s always nice to get to tee it up in another major and Opens are always fun,” he said. “Obviously I haven’t played in this one, but I’m looking forward to it and I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.” 

After taking a charter flight from the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois, to Scotland, Streb will face three major adjustments in his Royal Birkdale debut: the weather, the time change and the links-style course. 

“You have to get used to getting cold again,” he laughed. “It’s a little bit of a shock when you go from 90 and humid to over there. The weather is always something to deal with. You can get a good draw, bad draw. You also spend a lot more time with your golf ball running and chasing it around the golf course. Instead of flying it to here or flying it to there, you’re kind of trying to find a way to run it around the bunkers or onto the green.”

Streb has a purple Powercat logo on his golf bag and still uses a purple ball marker, his way of maintaining a connection with K-State, which he said prepared him to play in the adverse conditions he might face this week. Whether it was dealing with heavy winds, cold temperatures or both at Colbert Hills, he rarely faced ideal circumstances on the golf course as a Wildcat. 

“The conditions were always tough out there,” he said, “so it toughened you up.”