Travelers Championship 2015

Tuesday, May 12

Media Day

Jocelyn Gentile

Kevin Streelman

Stuart Rosenberg

Nathan Grube

Jimmy Canton

Andy Bessette


(Video shown.)

JOCELYN GENTILE: Hi. I'm Jocelyn. I'm glad to tell you that I am 13 years old. When I was seven, I was a very fun, active girl doing travel soccer, horseback riding and swimming. In the summer of that year, I started getting headaches that made me very sick, and my vision became funny. I was diagnosed with a brain cancer called medulloblastoma. I was told that I had a golf ball-sized tumor in the back of my head that was messing up my vision and causing me to have terribly painful headaches. They told me I needed to have surgery to remove the tumor. I was so sad and confused when my doctor told me this news, as it was a lot to take in for a seven-year old. 24 hours after they told me about the tumor, I had a six-hour brain surgery and spent two weeks in the hospital. As soon as I got out, I started radiation and chemo. I went to radiation every day for 30 days and had chemo for 13 months. Radiation was awful. I was put to sleep every day, and when I woke up, I felt terrible. My taste buds were damaged because of the radiation, so nothing tasted good except french fries. I was very tired and couldn't do any of my favorite things. Chemo and radiation made my hair fall off. I lost lots of weight and missed a lot of school. I was sad and missed my sports and my friends. While I was in the middle of my treatments, I heard about a camp called the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. The first time that I got to go to Camp on my own was the summer I turned eight. I had just finished a round of chemo and didn't feel good, but I really wanted to do this. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp was my very first sleep-away. I soon found out that this was the perfect camp to start. I was not concerned about going to Camp because my mom assured me that they would take good care of me. I was still nervous, though, because I would not know anybody and nobody would know me. I found out that I could go back to doing all my favorite things there like swimming, horseback riding and soccer. The like the fact that I could have fun all day every day and not have to sit in a hospital bed getting medical attention and walk around with a giant, inconvenient pole. Hole in the Wall Gang Camp helped me forget about my hard life in the real world and was a perfect world for one week. Camp helped me relax because I didn't have to worry about what was about to happen next. I knew that whatever was going to happen at Camp was going to be great. I'm a crafty girl, so at Camp you'll most likely find me in the arts and crafts room. I like how in the mornings we do an activity as a cabin group, but then in the afternoons the campers get to choose where they want to go. My first year there I spent the whole week in the arts and crafts room. I like how I could do this without missing out on the other things that Camp had to offer me like swimming, horseback riding and fishing. Some of my friends from Camp spend a lot of time in the hospital, and Camp has found a way to bring them to Camp without ever leaving their hospital beds. Camp actually goes to them with the hospital outreach program, which I think is amazing, because when I was in the hospital, I know it got very scary, frustrating and lonely. Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is awesome because if you don't know anyone when you get there, you'll know everyone when you go home. If you get to go back to Camp the next summer, you'll see friends that you already know. Camp is a great place because while you're there, you can't tell who's in treatment and who is not. We're all equal. I love that I have been able to keep in touch with so many of my Camp friends. They really understand what I am going through. I wouldn't have them if it wasn't for Camp. Camp has helped me realize that I am capable of so much more than what I originally thought. When I left Camp, I learned that doing the things I loved before I got cancer weren't gone forever. Camp helped me to know I am strong, and this sickness wasn't going to beat me. This is just like one of my soccer games: Fight until the end. Over the last five years, Hole in the Wall Gang Camp made me a more independent, confident girl. This is the best Camp that I have ever and will ever go to. Thanks to the amazing support that the Travelers tournament gives every year, my friends and I can continue to have that perfect one week a year to have fun and raise a little hell. And now I would like to introduce Mr.Nathan Grube. (Applause.)

NATHAN GRUBE: We start with the most important stuff first, so Jocelyn, thank you very much. Thank you, everybody, for being here for media day for 2015. Without a number of you in this room, we couldn't do what we do. We couldn't support Camp without telling the story about what this tournament is about, without finding new ways to raise more money for charity. We couldn't do that, and you are the storytellers. You do the digging, you do the reporting, and you put out there to the world what is happening here. You are a key piece of what is going on here, so thank you very much for being here. And I also do want to say thank you to a few of our partners who they are here. We're finding ways to keep you involved, but this year a few of them retired. Scott Gray and Ray VanStone, thank you for all the work you've done over the years that you will continue to do, but you officially retired this year, so thank you very much for everything. So a couple things I'm going to tee up, no pun intended, that people are always asking, hey, what's new this year, what's going on. We have a full slate of stuff and we're going to talk about our players here in a minute but you saw all the bands announced. I think we're going to have Bret Michaels and a little Poison and Dennis DeYoung with a little Styx, so we're calling it the Come Sail Away With Poison Tour. It's going to be a lot of fun. Speakers, I think you saw our Women's Day speakers announced, Martha Stewart and Cat Cora are going to be coming on Thursday for women's day. We actually had to build a facility out at the range larger so there's 200 more seats there. Get your tickets now if you plan on coming. That's going to sell out again. A couple of new things, I actually had Tom Yantz, I think, called us out on, he goes, wait a minute, what is not in the 18th fairway anymore. I said, well, that would be the cart path, thanks to Andy Bessette. You will notice a few changes to the golf course. That cart path will not be showing up, and Kevin will be happy he's not dropping the ball again and again trying to get free relief from it. We're part of the Open Qualifier Series this year, our tournament, so guys who are not eligible for the British Open who finish high enough in our tournament will actually get into the British Open this year. Last year we were not part of that, and that would have been Aaron Baddeley and a couple other guys, so I'm not telling them that we weren't last year, but we are this year, so if they have the same finish they would have gotten to the Open with our tournament, so we're happy to be part of that series this year. And then also the Drive, Chip & Putt, the entry level skills challenge going into the Masters, I think you saw that culminate at the Masters. We are a local qualifying site for that again partnering with the First Tee. So some of the fun things coming out of tournament week this week, and then obviously we'll be talking about some players and then the perfect weather. Who asked me who's in charge of weather this year? It's Tara Gerber. Raise your hand; she's in charge of weather this year. I'm going to introduce Andy Bessette now from Travelers who's going to come up and say a few words and get us going. But I will say this: I spent a little bit of time with Kevin Streelman. He came in last night. And we were just talking about the tournament and what he thinks of the tournament and just getting some honesty back, and he said, you know what, on TOUR there's just nobody like Andy out there. You've heard me say that, but to hear that from a player that says no other title sponsors actually take the time to get to know us. There might be times where somebody comes up and says, hey, we'd love for you play our tournament and they walk away, but Andy actually takes the time to find out what's going on with personally, what's going on in our lives and takes a personal interest in us, and that matters because he's the only one on TOUR doing that, so we have that ambassador out there making a difference for us here locally because of what he does. In his real day job he's the executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Travelers, by the way, but I think this is his full-time job as much as I call him, so please welcome up Andy Bessette.

ANDY BESSETTE: I always remind everybody of this, but we're really blessed to have Nathan and his staff with us, and this tournament couldn't be what it is, Nathan, without what you do, without what all of your team does to make it such a great event, so thank you. Thanks to your whole team. Jocelyn, you are one cool girl. I volunteered for the hospital outreach program, and I think it was the greatest half day I ever spent. I won't go into the details, but we played some games, and our patient, a little boy, tried to like pull one over on me. Couldn't do it, but it was a fun day. It was a great day. So thanks for your comments. That was really terrific. A couple of you asked so I'm going to tell a story quickly, Jennifer, so I don't get in trouble, but I'll tell you about my moose experience in West Hartford. Well, you wouldn't believe it, last November I was driving down to Mohegan to speak at our leadership conference, and I'm not kidding, I get south of Hebron on Route 2, and coming north on Route 2 was a cow in the middle of the road, like a 2,000-pound cow. I said to somebody, I feel like the Jack Hanna of animals in Connecticut. So I thought it was my responsibility because you didn't want this cow to hit somebody and hurt them, so I called the state police, and the dispatcher was very nice, and she said, thank you, sir, for calling about the cow on Route 2. She repeats what I said, okay. And she said, we're in pursuit, unlike in West Hartford for the moose, they said they're in hot pursuit. This dispatcher just said we're in pursuit. Well, I don't see anybody in pursuit but I'm going to keep going. I have to get there. A mile down the road, two state police cars flying like crazy with lights and whistles blowing, and they were after the cow. I don't even know what happened to the cow, don't want to know. So I'm two for two now, moose and cows. What's next? A bear. I don't know. I shouldn't say that. So that's the update on animals. On behalf of Jay Fishman and everybody at Travelers, I want to thank you all for being here this morning. This is a really important day for us, and we're really happy to welcome back Kevin Streelman. Kevin is just terrific. I think you're going to hear some of the other stories about what he's done, but he's as much a part of our family as anybody is, and he knows what it means to give back. We do the tournament because of the charitable efforts but also for what it does for our community, and Kevin just embraces that same philosophy, so Kevin, thanks for being here. We appreciate it. I think all of you know, Travelers has been affiliated with this tournament since it was the -- Chris, what did you call it, the ICO? I never heard of that, the Insurance City Open, in 1952, and we've been involved since day one, and it was just really a great thing for our company, and this year was really important because it marked the passing of two of our great champions, and I can't say this more sincerely enough that Billy Casper won this event amazingly four times. Four times. So Kevin, three more and we're going to help you get there. But Billy Casper won this four times, the most of my player to win this. And then of course all of you know Charlie Sifford passed away. He was the first African-American player to play on the PGA TOUR and won his first PGA TOUR event here in Connecticut, so how cool was that? We're always going to remember their ties to Connecticut and the significance of their achievements here in Connecticut at our tournament, and I'd just ask all of you to recognize that. We had two great past champions pass away this past year who meant a lot to us, and I know that I've seen videos of both of them saying and talking about how important this tournament was to them. As the hometown title sponsor, and I say that really with emphasis, we're so committed to this event because of charity, the community and because of what it does for our business. It's just second to none. During the first eight years of our title sponsorship, we gave to more than 500 charities, 500, and that's the work that Nathan and his team does in the whole community. Any of you in here that are sponsors, that's what we're doing, 500 charities, and more than $8 million going to those. Last year a million and a half dollars-- actually it was over a million and a half, I think it was 1.58 or something, that went to charity in 2014. Those numbers are really impressive and they mean a lot to everybody, but what's been really most rewarding has been meeting the people, many, many people behind all these charities, and all of you, I bet you if I asked you to put your hand up, you've met people behind these charities, and there are a lot of young people who are doing really extraordinary things with raising funds and bringing awareness to their causes because I think this tournament is as much about bridging awareness to the cause as it is the financial gains from it. And I have to say, this was Jay Fishman's idea, our chairman and CEO, and Jay said after last year's tournament, he said, we should do something different. We're always trying to honor different folks in different ways. The last couple years we did the military honorary co-chairs, and so we did, and this year we're going to honor four outstanding young people who give back unselfishly, and they just do a terrific job. They're all at different stages of their lives. They're outstanding leaders. They're innovative. They're creative thinkers, and I can't use the leadership word enough to describe them. But they're going to be our honorary co-chairs for 2015. I want to show you a short video and then I'll introduce you to them, but these four people just represent what the Travelers is about. They represent about giving back, they represent community, they represent doing all the things that are right in this world and for the right reasons. So if you roll the video, I'll be quiet, and then I'll come back. (Video shown.) Nathan and I always challenge each other with like who's going to get teary-eyed and cry first, and going after this, this is impossible. Do you want to take over, Nate? Please join me in recognizing our 2015 honorary co-chairs as I ask them each to stand as a group and stay up until the group is up. It feels funny to introduce you. You're already introduced on the video. Ben Goldman, who hosts Ben Goldman's Charity Corner on television; Brittany Vose, the creator of the Lustgarten Foundation 18-Hole Stroll; Chase Grubis, who is Clubs For Kids; and Mackenzie Page, the founder of the Great Pumpkin Challenge. Thank you for all you're doing. It's really terrific. You know, as Jocelyn said before, and as the four of you all represent, some of the things I've always thought is really important in life is to have a positive mental attitude. Don't ever give up, and always try to be better tomorrow than you were today, and I can see everything you do, all four of you, and Jocelyn, what you're doing, really embraces all of that, so you're doing a great job, and we're really proud to have you as a part of this. Community involvement, what you guys are doing, is a really important part of our Travelers culture, as well, and really, really honored to be able to recognize what you guys are doing and how you're doing it, and to have you part of the tournament, and having you as a part of opening and closing ceremonies, some of you. I know you've got other things in your lives that are very important, but you're welcome at opening and closing ceremonies, as well. On Wednesday, the celebrity mini-golf challenge which Ben reminded me he won last year, and it was legit, wasn't it? You're the defending champion, reigning champion. I think as you heard, too, Jocelyn and Mackenzie talking, the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a really amazing place, and we agree, and that's why Camp has been the primary charity of the Travelers Championship and has received approximately $2 million over the last eight years as a part of what we're doing here. In 2014 the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and get this, this is really cool, received the prestigious honor of being the PGA TOUR Charity of the Year. That's a huge honor, and Jimmy, what you and Ryan and your team does is really second to none, and for the PGA TOUR to recognize that is really big-time stuff, so congratulations. Here to tell you more about our whole partnership is Jimmy Canton, who is the CEO, chief executive officer, of Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.

JIMMY CANTON: Thank you, Andy. Thank you, Jocelyn, for moving the microphone down, Andy, lifting it back up. Good morning, everyone. I just wanted to take a moment to thank Travelers Championship and Travelers for the incredible support and ongoing support that you've given the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. It was a huge honor for us to be selected the PGA TOUR Charity of the Year, and it's really special for us because it celebrates a true friendship. Travelers' commitment to our campers, our children and the families that we serve is extraordinary, and it's championed at the highest levels. Andy and Nathan, Jay and Randy Fishman, and literally hundreds of Travelers employees who have found their way to volunteer at the Camp in some way. We are forever grateful for the championship and for the spirit of generosity and friendship that we continue to experience from this event. This year, 25,000 seriously ill children and family members will be served by the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, always completely free of charge, and what an incredible honor and privilege it is to do that. And for many of the children and families that are served, we will reach out to them multiple times throughout the Camp year, making that impact and that connection stick. So fun and friendship that we have at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford, it's no longer just at the Camp. It was in 40 hospitals up and down the East Coast, it's being brought to children in their camper homes, it's being brought to local communities and in outreach all over the northeast. That is only made possible because of the tremendous faith and support and generosity that we receive from Travelers Championship and friends all over the Northeast. Our founder was a true innovator, and it is because of the friendship and the support that we have from this event that we're able to continue to dream as our founder wanted us to dream and find new, innovative ways to extend service to more children with serious illness and their families. So on behalf of all of us at Camp, thank you all for believing in us, especially Travelers Championship and Travelers. Thank you for your ongoing support and for this award to be the PGA TOUR Charity of the Year. It's an incredible privilege. Thank you.

NATHAN GRUBE: Thank you, Jimmy. As Andy mentioned, what Travelers brings to the table is about half of what it takes to put this event on, to keep it moving forward, and there's a number of partners that we have that really believe in us and invest in us, but we have one presenting sponsor, and that is St.Francis Care, and in their name, that last, Care, what they do for us and what they do for the players, the caddies, their wives, things like that, the people feel like we are there to care about them. Our fans feel safe, the medical attention, Stu calls it silent medicine, and we have one of the best medical programs out there on TOUR, and they are our only presenting sponsor, so we want to say thank you to them and also have Stu Rosenberg, the CEO of Johnson Memorial, which falls under the St.Francis umbrella, come up and say a few words. Stu?

STUART ROSENBERG: Good morning. I am truly honored to be here on behalf of St.Francis care and share the podium with tremendous guests, our reigning champion Kevin, and Chris Berman, who I've grown up watching, believe it or not, Chris. Unfortunately Chris Dadlez couldn't be here today, and I share his enthusiasm and his commitment to the Travelers Championship as we celebrate another year going forward. If Chris were here today, he would remind us again about the Travelers Championship, our community in Connecticut and the fact that St.Francis is very proud, and to that end last year we announced that we will be the presenting sponsor through 2020, and we're very proud of that and committed to Cromwell, Connecticut, and to the Travelers. St.Francis understands its role and what we're here to do, and really we've been doing this for just 27 years, and personally I'm proud to be here on Chris's behalf because I've been involved 27 years ago, and it's hard to believe that we've been doing this for a long time starting with volunteering. I'm hearing everybody doing different charitable events, but we kept growing and growing as the Travelers' commitment kept moving forward. Chris and the St.Francis team kept saying, we're going to move with you. And that's just the responsibility, the tremendous growth that Travelers has given to advance this world-class event. I listen to the speeches, and I have to go off my remarks for a moment to say, you know, this is what I felt: The passion of giving, a culture of excellence, and a caring and commitment attitude. And when I hear what was said today, that's what us in the hospital industry go to sleep and wake up every day thinking if we can make a difference, and really just-- they call me the Tin Man, too, and Nathan, so just to let you know. And also, Johnson is now part of St.Francis, is also going to be providing volunteers this year in medical and food going forward. This is our 17th year providing on-course medical. We've done a lot for the players, a lot for the fans, and this is a safety net. This is an opportunity for all of you in the media, it's an opportunity for all the fans to be able to know that when you come here, we're here for you, but you're not necessarily going to see us. But we're ready to serve, and we're ready to make sure that we protect you here if you need it, and don't forget to wear your sunscreen. That's a message from our medical staff. In addition, I'd like to also say that we are doing many things for the military, and we have a passion and enthusiasm for that. As you know, we sponsor the military outpost, and it's our way of sharing the commitment through the Travelers and the gratitude of our country, those who serve today. As you may have known from last year, we provide three wounded warriors part of Birdies for the Brave program, and we also have them get fitted today for their clubs for the tournament. We have the military caddie program to join the players during the Travelers pro-am. We also are sponsoring the Birdies for the Brave warriors who actually play during the celebrity pro-am. So we're very committed to the program. We also are involved in the Fan Zone and many activities here. So in closing, St.Francis would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Travelers Championship board of directors. Nathan, you and your stellar team, Andy Bessette and the whole Travelers team, the PGA TOUR, countless volunteers who are here, so I want to say thank you on behalf of St.Francis Care, and we'll see you in June. Take care.

NATHAN GRUBE: Thank you, Stu. We're going to bring up Chris and Kevin, but hold on because we have a video. Chris has made a lot of history over the years. Some of it public, some of it not public, but one of the things that you did do this year, and I think we have a picture, Chris for the first time in his career-- I think we have one, made the cut at Pebble, played on the weekend. Very nice, you and our '06 champ J.J. played on the weekend, and he said it's one of the best experiences he's had, so congratulations on that. Kevin, we have a video for you, so we're going to roll the video and then you guys are going to come on up, so hold on one second. (Video shown.) I think we have something for you, Kevin, and I'm going to let Andy give it to you.

ANDY BESSETTE: If you don't know yet, when people say no to me, I say yes. I don't give up. I never have my whole life, and I know you haven't, either, so this is really cool. I've been waiting to do this for months, and actually when I saw you at THE PLAYERS, I said, oh, God, I want to tell you. No, I'm not going to tell him. So this was a really special year, right, for Duke and UConn, right? Well, somebody checked and said, this is impossible to do, so what we asked for from Duke was a basketball jersey signed by Krzyzewski, No.7, for seven straight birdies, with Streelman on the back, and the answer that came back was no. No? Did you say no to us? So I went back to my contacts, and I took this to the basketball gods, and we have two things for you. So here's a Duke jersey with Streelman on the back, No.7, signed by who else but to Kevin, Mike Krzyzewski. I think this is just the coolest thing since you're a Duke guy, but this is only half of it.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Thank you so much.

ANDY BESSETTE: Remember who you are. But wait a minute, I know you're a Blue Devil, right? Well, we're Huskies here. So I couldn't help it but go to the gods of basketball and get a women's, since we have the women's national champion, signed by Geno Auriemma, Streelman No.7, so you can frame both of them side by side. You've got the men's and women's National Championship from 2015. How cool? I was so excited.

CHRIS BERMAN: UConn men can't win every year. The women can.

KEVIN STREELMAN: I do have the utmost respect for UConn basketball. We respect each other.

CHRIS BERMAN: How are we doing? The sun is out, there's no snow on the course and we're actually going to play. Welcome to Connecticut. You know what, first let's say hello to these Jocelyn and you four quatro chairs. What you guys have done with your lives trumps what we've done with ours, so a round of applause for these five young kids. I know I speak for Kevin, as well. Where's Ben? He's too good a player--

KEVIN STREELMAN: He's practicing.

CHRIS BERMAN: He's practicing already to win the mini. We're going to have fun and go through some of the shots that you hit, which is unprecedented. But we did this this morning, but some of you may not be aware that we're looking at the par-3 champ at the Masters, okay, which is very cool, with Jack Nicklaus in it. How often do you compete against Jack Nicklaus? Answer, not very much. But that was a very small part. You've seen the video of what these young men and women have done and are doing, and Jimmy has talked about the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, etcetera, and you decided that, well, I've had my family caddie, we can do something else, we can explain the story about a young man who's 13 from Alberta who was on your bag that obviously can read putts.

KEVIN STREELMAN: He's wonderful at that. It was on my heart to do something different for the par-3 tournament this year where we can choose our own caddie, so I contacted the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and I said are there any juniors who would like to come to Augusta and be my guests, and they just were very excited about the opportunity. I got in touch with a young guy named Ethan Couch, who is from Alberta, Canada, and I gave him a phone call the day after his 13th birthday, and I said, Ethan, my name is Kevin Streelman; I'm a professional golfer. He goes, oh, I know, I know who you are. I said, well, I'm playing in a tournament in about a month and a half called the Masters, and he just goes silent. And I go, I was curious if you'd be willing to caddie for me in the par-3 tournament, and he was still silent, and found out later his mom was a little worried for a second because he started trembling a little bit and then everyone kind of got emotional. Two months later, he shows up Tuesday. We got to meet each other and catch up with his mom and dad and his little brother came, and then Wednesday we were teeing off at 3:30, I grabbed him at 1:30 after I played a nine-hole practice round, and I mean, it was amazing. He got to meet Rory right away. He got to meet Jordan Spieth. He got to meet Jason Day. Everyone was incredible to him. The coolest part, we get out on the course, and it was right when Jack Nicklaus made his hole-in-one, and it was a roar like I had never heard, especially at Augusta. We went out, and I think we maybe one-putted those nine greens, as well. It was one of those days where I was having a little help. It wasn't about me, it wasn't about me winning, it just was about giving back to a young guy who's been through some tough times. We ended up getting in a playoff with Camilo and ended up winning the par-3 tournament. It's one of the most incredible experiences of definitely my professional career and really of my life.

CHRIS BERMAN: And he can read putts, obviously. He was on fire that day.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Uh-huh.

CHRIS BERMAN: What's it like playing in the Masters?

KEVIN STREELMAN: This was my fourth one.

CHRIS BERMAN: You played well.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, I made about a 10-footer for par to finish T12 on the last, and that gets me to go back next year. Looking back at the video I get emotional watching that because there was a lot of tough times getting started for me, and living on couches and burning out cars, and there was a time I went to an ATM machine to take out $20, and it said, sorry. I don't take for granted anything that we've had, and the work ethic that's gotten me professionally where I am but just the way I was raised by two parents I dearly love and instilled in me more important things than just professional success. It's just-- that event is something that you look forward to each other, and you learn more about that course each time you play it, but it's just a ton of fun to play.

CHRIS BERMAN: How old were you when you said-- you were caddying, grew up outside of Chicago, boy, be a pro golfer, I don't know if I'm ever going to be a PGA TOUR-- when was that your dream?

KEVIN STREELMAN: You know, a very long story short, but coming out of Duke I really didn't want to get a regular job or go to med school or anything, so I thought I'd give this mini-Tour stuff a try, and the first time at Q-school I missed the finals by one shot, so I thought I was better than I really was. I wasn't ready by any means at that point, and missing was the best thing that could have happened. Got some money together to do some mini-Tours out west in Phoenix, where I live now, and absolutely got my butt kicked out there. Just lost all the money. Everyone out there was amazing golfers that had played those courses all the time. Everything breaks to the valley which I now know but back then I didn't, but everyone was just wiping me out. I kind of had to go back to Chicago with my tail between the legs and had lost all the money and was looking for a real job, and the Duke assistant coaching job came about, so I went pretty hard after that, and it came down to me and one other gentleman, Jim Kubinski, who's now the head coach at Notre Dame, and he got the job and I didn't, so at the time I was living in my parents' basement and caddying at Chicago Golf to just make a couple bucks, and the Western Open was coming about, which is the only event that used to be in Chicago, so my dad gave me $400 to try and Monday qualify, and I remember making about an 18-foot left-to-right snake to shoot 67 and get in my PGA TOUR event. This was right after Mike Weir had won the Masters, and I got to play a practice round with him, and it was just-- it was really eye-opening for me how good he was, but yet I looked at him and I said, with the proper work, with just kind of getting things going, I think I could hang with him. I think I can do that. And I think I shot 78-77, missed the cut by a bunch, but it was-- I knew what I wanted to do right there, and from there, just kind of slowly worked at it, tried to get better each day, tried to just stay along the path, and my sixth trip to Q-school was in '07, and seeing mom and dad there and Courtney-- Courtney was with me when we had nothing, so now I have her and Sophie traveling with me, and 200 PGA TOUR events later, it's been an incredible journey.

CHRIS BERMAN: You tower over Mike Weir; you know that.

KEVIN STREELMAN: I don't tower over too many people.

CHRIS BERMAN: Your daughter is a good traveler?

KEVIN STREELMAN: She is. I think she's been on 50 airplane flights in 16 months. They're waiting for me down in Charlotte this week. They're just incredible. It takes the right type of spouse and family for a crazy lifestyle where we're gone 30, 35 weeks a year. To be able to do things like this, to have a platform to try and inspire others and to meet people like what you guys are doing, it's truly an honor. I tell people I chase a white ball around a field, and it's something I love to do, and I'm very fortunate, but it's what we do with the blessings we've been given and the platforms we've been given that leave our identity. To be here is really an honor. Thank you.

CHRIS BERMAN: What you said before, you played a lot of-- it was the best time to play, twilight, the rates are better, weather is better if it's hot in Illinois, so you got a good rate here last Sunday-- the last Sunday in June. But that'll be fun. We haven't done this before, and we'll have questions here in a minute, but we haven't done this at this-- we're going to go through because it's been unprecedented. First of all, 28 on the back? Miniature golf we don't make 28 on the back, all right? Second of all, no one has ever birdied seven holes, the last seven, to win a PGA TOUR event, so this really hasn't, and one of them-- you one-putted 9--

KEVIN STREELMAN: Birdied 9, par saved 10 and 11.

CHRIS BERMAN: One-putt 11, but that's a birdie hole if you're going somewhere, didn't birdie it. Over here in a minute we're going to go hole by hole. It's pretty interesting. So you're thinking I can win this tournament? You're not.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Not really at that moment, no.

CHRIS BERMAN: So let's put up the leaderboard for 12. So on the 12th tee, and you're about the fourth or fifth to last group, we think. So on the 12th tee, Kevin is tied for 19th, you know, but along-- we're running out of holes to pick up six shots because they could birdie also, right?

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah.

CHRIS BERMAN: So that's 12. How did you play that one? The second shot is hard.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Hit a great shot to the top of the hill right where I wanted it, and then hit a nice wedge in about 10 feet below the front center pin there and had an uphill putt looking right at it, so it was right where I wanted to be.

CHRIS BERMAN: So there's a birdie.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yes. Yes. I told the story I wasn't very focused on that putt. As we were having a family fishing vacation the next week, and I was over the putt to hit it and I backed off, and the caddie is like, everything okay, and I was like, yeah, I was just thinking about the bass I want to catch next week up in Flagstaff. So he goes, get back there, and got focused, and hit a nice putt there and got it going.

CHRIS BERMAN: Really what you were thinking of was the pond on 13.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, I've got to check that out later.

CHRIS BERMAN: Connecticut River you can't quite see. So now we're going to see -- so now 13, so you're on in--

KEVIN STREELMAN: You know, 13 you've got to make birdie there or eagle, and I hit an awesome hybrid in there. The pin was kind of front left over the water and landed right next to the hole but bounced over the back, which is a good spot to be. I had a good lie, hit a nice chip to four feet and brushed that one in, which I know you've got to do to keep up on the back nine.

CHRIS BERMAN: So now we've had two birdies, and now here is the leaderboard after 13, all right? So all of a sudden you're in seventh. I don't know if you're even looking at boards at that stage.

KEVIN STREELMAN: I'm not, definitely not.

CHRIS BERMAN: So T7, but there's plenty of names including Sergio and Troy who know what to do and Jeff Maggert who had a good tournament. So now there you are at 13. Now what are you thinking? I can win this or let's just see where this goes?

KEVIN STREELMAN: I'm just thinking the putter felt very good at this point. I think this had been five or six one-putts. So I just wanted to basically get to the green, and then obviously an easy-- not easy tee shot, but if you can hit a good little draw you can really get it down there on 14 and get a wedge in your hand, which I did. Didn't hit a very good wedge, thought. The pin was back, and you cannot go over that green, so I kind of just kind of gave up on it a little bit and probably left it 20, 25 feet short, and that putt I didn't hit hard enough. I had some help, I think, on that one because it just on the last roll popped in the top--

CHRIS BERMAN: Crenshaw, right?

KEVIN STREELMAN: Didn't hit the back of the hole.

CHRIS BERMAN: But here's another birdie, so here's three in a row, and now after 14, here's our board, and all of a sudden, you go to 15, which, I mean, not a lot of us think eagle all the time when you're on the tee there, but--

KEVIN STREELMAN: I've got to make birdie.

CHRIS BERMAN: Do you think eagle possibility?

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, you've got to-- you've got to make at least birdie to keep up, to just keep up to have a chance. That's all I wanted at this point. I didn't realize they were all in a row, I just needed to get to the top there as quickly as possible, and 15 is an opportunity that you have to take advantage of, and I hit a great tee shot and it kind of rolled up the right side of the hill and then went down below. It wasn't sitting that great, and hit a fair chip to about 11, 12 feet, and--

CHRIS BERMAN: Hold on. Now we start with real fun. (Video shown.) They didn't even know what to say. They weren't sure.

KEVIN STREELMAN: No. They weren't quite sure.

CHRIS BERMAN: If he has a back nine, he can make a nice check. So now you've birdied 12, 13, 14, 15. When does it come in that you really might have a chance?

KEVIN STREELMAN: Well, not yet. I still hadn't looked at a leaderboard.

CHRIS BERMAN: I think I know what's coming.

KEVIN STREELMAN: And that pin, man, was tough on 16 last year. It was really up against that right bunker, a lot of slope there, and you know, at the time I was-- it was into the wind. I think I had a 6-iron there, which I'm not trying to-- it's not going to stop right next to that pin. To hit it inside of 20 feet would be a great shot there, and I thought I hit a good shot. It flew a little too long and then went just inside the back fringe to about 46 feet or something, 43 feet.

CHRIS BERMAN: Well, and so this, you're all the way across-- I had binoculars. It was a long putt. And then... (Video shown.) It's almost like you pulled that back at the end.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, a little help there. Got a little help.

CHRIS BERMAN: Are you going for the make? The putter felt great.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, the putter felt great. When it was about halfway there, I knew it had a very good chance. What they didn't show was me kind of running down the slope to the side because I was following that putt and kind of--

CHRIS BERMAN: Yelling at it?

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, pretty much begging for it at that point.

CHRIS BERMAN: Kind of like being on the rail at the Kentucky Derby yelling at the horse, right?

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, that one looked good for a long time. Then when it fell back in, then I had a feeling something was happening. But I was also really proud of the way I was able to -- you've got to hit 17 fairway. It's not a super tight fairway but it's just tight enough where if you get in that left bunker, it is such a tough shot going over the water, and obviously you can't bail out right. Hit an awesome little cut 3-wood off the bunker and gave myself a wedge in there.

CHRIS BERMAN: So wedge in there, and then here's 17. (Video shown.)

KEVIN STREELMAN: Very makeable, that one. Caught the lip there.

CHRIS BERMAN: When baseball players are in the groove, they think they're like hitting volleyball size, like the ball looks huge. Did the cup really start to look--

KEVIN STREELMAN: I tried to miss that putt, I couldn't even miss it. It was funny because Nick Watney had the same kind of line that I did, and his peeled a little right there, so I saw mine as left center, and I said, I've got this right now. I couldn't miss from here, and so I hit it left center and I was actually walking it in and then it took a little left break, and I said, oh, man, and then somehow it hung in there. But I hit it where I wanted to but I think I misread it a tad.

CHRIS BERMAN: You've played here enough to know that on Sundays, birdied at 17 are not a lot.

KEVIN STREELMAN: No. 16, 17 and 18 would be really good holes to birdie.

CHRIS BERMAN: So now here's the board. (Video shown.) Well, now you've got an hour. You go, you don't hit, you're watching, you're trying not to watch. What are you doing, because here's Garcia, here's Choi, here's Baddeley.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, I had a feeling I'd go into a playoff but I was just kind of having fun talking with media, talking with--

CHRIS BERMAN: Having fun talking with the media?

KEVIN STREELMAN: Hanging with Courtney and Sophie there and A.J. I was coming off four missed cuts in a row. I didn't have a ton of confidence in my game, but something clicked. That was an afternoon I'll never forget.

CHRIS BERMAN: Well, that'll be in the history books for a long time. It's even exciting it seeing nine months later, isn't it, or whatever we are? So we should open with Ray or Scott with questions because you can tell me how retirement is or will be. Are they around?

Q. What did you think when you saw the way Rickie Fowler finished at THE PLAYERS?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I thought it was awesome. I saw in his eyes kind of a similar calmness and peace that I felt that afternoon. There wasn't many big fist pumps, there wasn't much emotion, he just was calm and collected and confident.

Q. So from your experience you kind of knew where he was at--
KEVIN STREELMAN: I knew where he was at, yeah. There's a magic place where it's trusting your instincts and it's trusting your training, and when it comes out in competition, especially in the heat on a Sunday, for us it's just the ultimate as professional athletes. It was fun. Mostly it's just fun.

Q. How often do you think of that day?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I think of that day pretty frequently, a few times a week. I've seen the YouTube clip of that a few times, and I've studied it, my demeanor, my putting stroke, like the metronome beats per minute that I was on at that moment to kind of try and recreate that a touch, try and learn as much as I can because obviously that's the realm and the zone I want to be in as often as possible because that's when I'm at my best. I have studied it rather intently.

Q. I'm just wondering wherever you were last Sunday after you missed the cut--
KEVIN STREELMAN: Last week? We stayed in Ponte Vedra, and my parents were there, and I was with my daughter at the beach, and we walked back in, and I saw the last three holes Rickie played and then the playoff. I watched the end of it.

CHRIS BERMAN: Do you like that as a three-hole playoff? That was okay, right?

KEVIN STREELMAN: I thought it was great.

CHRIS BERMAN: I liked that.

KEVIN STREELMAN: I did, too. My dad asked me the same question. I think it's kind of neat for the U.S. Open to do 18 holes because of the tradition of it, but it seems like a three- or four-hole playoff gives a little more not only fairness to maybe not hit a perfect shot and still have a chance because you've put in four days and 72 holes that just one quick moment wouldn't decide it, but at the same time you're getting the best player winning. I personally think it's great.

Q. Can you share with us, over the last couple weeks there's been a lot of talk about an anonymous poll conducted by Sports Illustrated that seems to be getting a lot of play. Did you take the poll, and what kind of credibility is given to an internal poll that rates the most overrated player, most underrated player, most liked player, most disliked player? Is this silliness?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I think it's a bit silly, but it's something to talk about, and in a way I think it's kind of harmless, and at times-- as long as it's meant to kind of be fun, I think it's fine. I think Rickie probably liked it because I think it gave him some motivation this week to kind of prove people wrong. I'm sure deep down he's kind of glad it was.

Q. Did you take the poll?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I've taken a number of them. I'm not sure I took that exact one.

Q. How many have you taken?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I think two or three a year. I kind of know who's going to do it and what the questions are going to be. They're pretty much the same every year. There's probably 20 questions and then the one or two obviously are brought out a bit more than the other ones. I don't think there's too much intended malice with it.

CHRIS BERMAN: It's amazing, almost from this table there's something in the air.

Q. Do you still work with Jim Suttie?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I still am in touch with Jim Suttie. I don't technically work with my golf swing with Doc but he's a dear friend, and he was a second father to me growing up, and--

Q. I sat with him at the Masters, and he just talked about you for about an hour.
KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah. He's a sweet man, and I wouldn't be where I am today without Doc.

Q. To mix a couple sports here, as a professional athlete, what's your reaction to what's happened to the Patriots with Deflate Gate and the penalties handed out against Brady, and given that you are an athlete who plays a sport where the athlete calls the penalty on himself?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I honestly am not as versed as I could be to really answer it-- as far as historically if this falls in line, if it's more, if it's less, I honestly don't know just how-- it's obviously a very severe penalty, and how much he can have on-- I just don't know. I don't know how much say he really has on those situations or not. I'm just not as versed in that realm as I could be, as a Bears fan who's been struggling the past few years.

CHRIS BERMAN: They need defense.

Q. It's brought a lot of attention to not just the football but the balls used in other sports. Over the years there's been controversy about pitchers doctoring baseballs. When you see some of these guys out on TOUR hitting it a mile by everyone, do you ever wonder, gee, what are they hitting, and do you think the TOUR spends as much time focusing on the golf balls that the players are using?
KEVIN STREELMAN: I honestly have never thought that I was getting a bad part of the deal by any means. I've played pretty much the same golf ball since I was 18 years old. I would probably be a fan of us all using the same golf ball and you just pick up five of them at the first tee and we all play the same deal, but just as far as marketing, we're kind of past that point as far as it wouldn't quite work anymore.

Q. Are you aware of the TOUR ever checking someone's ball?
CHRIS BERMAN: It happened here. Greg did, right? We don't even know what that was. He disqualified himself for something that wasn't--

KEVIN STREELMAN: Yeah, I would doubt it's really intentional. What tends to happen is we'll get some prototype balls, and sometimes you forgot one in your bag, and they're marked like very similar to the ones we use, and so if you grab one out of your bag and don't intend-- you're not really intending to try and cheat or put anything past anybody, you kind of just screwed up and should have gotten rid of those golf balls or not put them into the bag until they were approved by the USGA. But once you start with one type of golf ball, you have to continue that round with the same at least type, so there have been a few times where people have been disqualified for using a different type, but I don't think it was really intended to get a leg up on anybody.

CHRIS BERMAN: So you're still using the gutta percha, right?

KEVIN STREELMAN: I'm 36 now. I've got to hit it as far as I can to keep up with these 22 years old.

CHRIS BERMAN: Listen, we have fun -- it's really fun for me as part of the championship ceremony on Sunday to watch everyone kind of-- we had a good time last Sunday in June looking at the names on here. You said like Greg Norman was your-- which few jumped out, or have you looked at it since?

KEVIN STREELMAN: I mean, Sam Snead was the first one that jumped out. That's just awesome. But I mean, one after another.

CHRIS BERMAN: Arnie.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Arnie to Phil to-- yeah, exactly. My dad, and he was in Arnie's Army. He was running around the Western Open each year when we were in Chicago for years. To be on the same name, to be on the same trophy as him is an honor.

CHRIS BERMAN: I want to end it with Andy brought up two names of champions of ours, real trailblazers, Billy Casper won it four times; no one has won it four. Arnie was three, and Charlie Sifford, first black man to win a PGA TOUR event. They were both here when we had our 50th. Was that '01, 2001? Sam Snead was here. It was actually very cool. My point is we're now 60-plus years, so when we have our hundredth, would you please come back?

KEVIN STREELMAN: Absolutely. I hope I can.

CHRIS BERMAN: Maybe up there with two or three or four, but as they came back then, I'm thinking, my God, we're going to have a hundredth, and wow, he can still swing. That's amazing.

KEVIN STREELMAN: I hope so.

CHRIS BERMAN: We've had wonderful champions in the past, but this is a young man that's only scratching the surface. We can call you young, all right?

KEVIN STREELMAN: I appreciate that.

CHRIS BERMAN: With a young family and everything, and I know coming back here you feel like there's magic, so you're always a member of Connecticut.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Thank you.

CHRIS BERMAN: Whatever jersey you wear. Ladies and gentlemen, our very gracious reigning champion, Kevin Streelman.

KEVIN STREELMAN: Thank you.

NATHAN GRUBE: Chris, Kevin, thank you. Kevin, when you make history around here, we do something about it, so on the 12th hole, we have installed a plaque that's the beginning of your birdie run, and here's what it reads. 2014 Travelers Championship winner Kevin Streelman was looking at a five-stroke deficit as he started the back nine of his final round. Beginning at hole 12, Streelman made seven consecutive birdies for a one-stroke victory. His remarkable play on the final seven holes of the tournament broke the record for the most consecutive birdies to win a PGA TOUR event, which dated back to 1956. So this is yours. It weighs about 28 pounds, but the other one is installed out there on 12 for a little piece of history, so thank you very much. Chris, history is made, turning 60. We have birthday cake in the back everyone can enjoy for Mr.Berman, so happy 60th. Thank you for being here, and like I said, the tournament is the only thing in Connecticut older than you. So happy birthday, Chris. We do have a player announcement, as well. Coming back for the first time since '02, Ernie Els is coming back, Zach Johnson, Padraig Harrington, Keegan Bradley, we're going to set up a match between he and Miguel Angel, and then also Louis Oosthuizen is coming back, so we have five major winners who have committed, and we have announcement coming at the end of this week hopefully. Thank you very much, enjoy your time, and thank you guys both very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129