Martin breaks through in 56th PGA tournament
Martin played his final four holes at the TPC Summerlin in four-under par, though no shot was more important than the eagle.
Kevin Streelman ran off five birdies in a six-hole stretch to overtake Martin for the lead, and Streelman hit a wedge to within five feet on the 18th hole. But Martin, who led by as many as four shots on the back nine, hit a 6-iron over the water to the back of the green on the par-five 16th.
His eagle putt broke back to the left over the final few feet and dropped in the cup to put Martin back in the lead.
Moments later, Streelman missed his short birdie attempt.
Martin two-putted for par on the 17th, and then rolled in a birdie putt he didn’t need for a two-shot victory. The 27-year-old from South Carolina won in his 56th career start.
“It was an awesome way to finish,’’ Martin said. “I didn’t feel like I had much going all day. Four under on my last four to cap my first win was just awesome.’’
Martin finished at 20-under 264 and returns to the Masters, this time as a pro. He played Augusta National in 2010 as the U.S. Amateur runner-up.
Streelman set a PGA Tour record in June when he closed with seven straight birdies to win the Travelers Championship. He was headed down that path again with a string of birdies until he missed his last putt on the low side of the hole. He closed with a 65.
“I tried not to look at the leaderboard,’’ Streelman said. “It was kind of like Travelers. I had to make as many [birdies] as possible as quickly as possible.’’
Russell Knox, who played in the final group with Martin, took a double bogey on No. 9 to fall back. He made three straight birdies late in the round, and then made a tough par putt on the 18th for a 70 to finish alone in third.
Defending champion Webb Simpson (68), Brooks Koepka (68) and Jimmy Walker (69) tied for fourth, four shots behind.
Martin had a four-shot lead after 10 holes when he pulled his tee shot behind a tree and dropped a shot at the 11th, and Streelman began his run of his birdies. Martin finally answered with a drive that hopped onto the green at the par-four 15th that set up a two-putt birdie, and then he made good on his second straight eagle attempt.
It was a quick turnaround for Martin, who opened the PGA Tour season last week at the Frys.com Open with rounds of 78-79 to miss the cut. He took the lead in Las Vegas with a 62 in the third round to take a two-shot lead into the final round.
Martin said he tried not to look at leaderboards even though “my heart was beating out of my chest.’’
“I tried to keep plugging along and let it happen,’’ he said.
Streelman didn’t look at leaderboards either, although he couldn’t ignore the one behind the 18th green. He heard the cheers from the 16th green as he was lining up his birdie putt on the 18th, not realizing at the time it was Martin making eagle.
“I saw I was one up on the 18th green, and then I saw I was one down,’’ Streelman said. AP
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