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First PGA win sends Wheaton Warrenville South grad Kevin Streelman back to Masters

File photo
Kevin Streelman (right), a Wheaton Warrenville South graduate, looks to make the cut this time in his second trip to the Masters next month. He also competed at Augusta in 2011.
File photo Kevin Streelman (right), a Wheaton Warrenville South graduate, looks to make the cut this time in his second trip to the Masters next month. He also competed at Augusta in 2011.

In his basement which features a hitting bay and a putting green, Kevin Streelman's first Masters invitation sits framed on a shelf.

A second frame was placed next to it, this one empty in hopes of someday housing the Wheaton Warrenville South graduate's second invite to the fabled tournament in Augusta, Ga.

That wait is now over.

Courtesy of Streelman's first-place finish two weeks ago at the Tampa Bay Championship, the 34-year old received a spot in the 2013 Masters field.

"It's really cool," Streelman said by phone Monday, just hours after wrapping up the Arnold Palmer Invitational. "I look at that (empty frame) every morning when I do my work in the basement. It pushes me to keep working at it. It's very special to me."

The now-Arizona resident played in the 2011 Masters but did not make the cut after shooting 5-over through two rounds. His second experience, which begins on Thursday, April 11, will be a lot less hectic.

"The first time was amazing," he said, "but it was a little overwhelming as far as attention, just with family and friends. I was pulled in a million directions. Everyone stayed together in one big house. This time (my wife) Courtney and I have our own smaller house.

"I am going to try to stay away from the chaos and make it like any other week."

In the meantime, Streelman is putting down his clubs for the rest of this week after a grueling two-week stretch that began with his first PGA Tour win March 17, a moment he will never forget.

"It was pretty overwhelming," Streelman said. "I really just played so well that final day. I kept the ball in front of me, didn't make any mistakes. I had no bogeys on the weekend. I tried to make it as low stress as possible."

Streelman said he kept his emotions in check during the final holes. He took a little different approach than in the past.

"I enjoy that, being in the hunt on the back nine on a Sunday," said Streelman, who after the victory, ate pizza with his wife and her parents while watching a replay of the telecast. "That is what I practice for. A couple of other PGA events, I've been close. But those I played not to screw it up. I almost played for pars and ultimately, I did screw it up. This time I tried to stay aggressive and confident and let the cards fall where they may. Fortunately, I held on."

The next few days turned out to be a whirlwind.

"I received hundreds of voicemails along with text messages, facebook messages, tweets," Streelman said. "The support was amazing. I was very proud that I was able to come out this (past) week and play well and get a top-25 out of it because I was exhausted, totally wiped."

Barely sleeping until Thursday, Streelman still managed to shoot a 2-under 286 at Bay Hill last week to finish in a tie for 21st place. He also currently stands fourth in the FedExCup standings.

"It was nice to come back and play because I felt really confident," Streelman said. "But I really had to battle my energy levels. I didn't sleep well the first few nights because I was so excited."

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