Win-Win: Triplett, Kelly Nearly Pull Off Rare NW Double
Moses Lake native Kirk Triplett wins at Pebble Beach; Silverdale native Troy Kelly falls in PGA Tour playoff.
Going into last weekend, Puget Sound golfers had won three titles in PGA Tour events already this year, with Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley, Seattle’s Fred Couples and Olympia native (and current Lakewood resident) Andres Gonzales winning once each on the PGA, Champions and Nationwide Tours (er, Web.com Tour — that’s going to take some getting used to), respectively.
In the time it took you to mow your lawn on Sunday, that total nearly doubled.
First came a win in the PGA Champions Tour’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach for Moses Lake native Kirk Triplett, who went 70-70-66 in the 54-hole tournament for his first-career Champions Tour win.
A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, Triplett competed on the recently-renamed Web.com Tour (formerly the Nationwide Tour) in 2011, before turning 50 in March and making the jump to the Champions Tour.
“To win anywhere is special,” said Triplett. “But to win at Pebble Beach is extra special. To do it in my first Champions Tour try is great.”
Triplett joked that the presence of First Tee golfers on the course at Pebble Beach wasn’t unusual, since he became used to playing with teenagers on the Web.com Tour in 2011. In fact, the win made Triplett one of just six players in history to win on the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Web.com Tour.
More importantly, the victory — sealed by an eagle at the par-5 second hole and a chip-in birdie on 16 — earned Triplett a cool $305,000 and shot him up to 14th in the Tour’s Charles Schwab Cup standings entering this week’s U.S. Senior Open at Inglewood.
Meanwhile, on the other coast, one of Triplett’s fellow Washingtonians (and, like Triplett, a 2011 Web.com Tour winner), Troy Kelly, nearly pulled off perhaps the unlikeliest victory in recent “home team” history. A Tacoma native who played for coach Matt Thurmond at Washington through 2003, Kelly had never finished higher than 37th in a PGA Tour event prior to Sunday, when he took PGA Tour rookie Ted Potter, Jr., to a three-hole playoff before finishing second at the PGA Tour’s Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia.
Kelly led for much of the final round before Potter notched an eagle and two birdies on the final four holes of regulation to force the playoff. Kelly responded to the challenge, draining a 22-foot par putt on the second playoff hole to extend the playoff, but Potter birdied the third playoff hole to seal the win.
Kelly’s finish — the third finish of second or better for a Puget Sound golfer on the PGA Tour this year — shot the Central Kitsap grad all the way up to 104th in the FedEx Cup standings, well inside the 125-player cutoff to retain his Tour card for 2013. In addition, the finish earned Kelly a spot alongside fellow Home Teamer Kyle Stanley in next week’s British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s. (Where they’ll be joined by the lucky lottery winners from our drawing at last year’s Cascade Golfer Year End Bash. This year’s drawing prize? A 54-hole Pebble Beach dream vacation — details to come in the August issue).
Add their purses together, and Triplett and Kelly combined for $1 million in earnings this weekend — a pretty hefty sum for our little corner of the globe — and that’s not even factoring in the cash pocketed by Home Team golfers Richard Lee, Jimin Kang and Paige Mackenzie, each of whom finished in the money on the PGA and LPGA Tours.