Jun 16, 2014
08:51 AM
The Connecticut Story

Ken Duke Defends His Travelers Championship Title at This Year's Tournament

Ken Duke Defends His Travelers Championship Title at This Year's Tournament

It's officially on: The Travelers Championship got underway with opening ceremonies on Monday, June 16, that featured last year's winner, Ken Duke.

Duke won the Travelers Championship in dramatic fashion last June, squaring off against Chris Stroud in a sudden-death playoff and ultimately emerging victorious after birdieing the second playoff hole. It was Duke’s first PGA Tour victory in 187 starts. He's back at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell to defend his championship for this year’s tournament. Here's our Q&A with Duke:

What are your thoughts returning to the Travelers after last year? 

I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of the people who were there rooting for me last year. It seems like everywhere I go I meet some new friends, so I’m excited to get back there. It will be fun. 

What was going through your head during the sudden-death playoff last year? 

I’ve been there before, not on the PGA Tour but during other tournaments. I only had one person to beat. I knew where my golf game was at the time. I made a couple of good shots in the playoff and ended up winning it. So it was really exciting for me. 

What was winning your first PGA tournament like?

It was just a weight off my shoulders. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and placed second a few times, which was nice, but this was really getting the lump off your back. You feel like you belong on the PGA Tour now. 

Are there any particular challenges or things you like about the TPC River Highlands course? 

It’s a golf course for anyone—a short hitter or a long hitter, or someone in between. Coming down the stretch there’s a lot of water holes and you have to watch out for that. It’s also a great atmosphere to play in. 

What first drew you to golf? 

My dad was a weekend golfer. Obviously, he introduced me to the game. As a young kid you play a lot of sports, and I was working hard in all these sports and it seemed like this one, it just paid off a little bit more. It’s also an individual sport and that’s the reason I picked it. You don’t have to worry about anyone else. You just have to worry about yourself. 

During your career you’ve had some ups and downs. Was there ever a point where you 
considered quitting? 

Not really, but 2001 and 2002 I had some tough years and didn’t have any status. I had just gotten married and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I finally got some status and played well in a few tournaments and didn’t look back from there on. Though, I never really thought about hanging it up. 

The field at this year’s tournament includes Bubba Watson—any thoughts on the competition? 

Travelers always has a great field and they had a big field last year. I just have to worry about the golf course, I don’t have to worry about who’s playing. You need to stay focused on what you have to do—the task at hand, instead of who’s playing in the field. You can get caught up in that really easily and can get starstruck if you don’t watch it.     

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Ken Duke Defends His Travelers Championship Title at This Year's Tournament

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