For seven seasons, Kevin Streelman dedicated himself to the proposition that someday he was going to earn his PGA tour card — no matter how long it took.

For seven seasons, Kevin Streelman dedicated himself to the proposition that someday he was going to earn his PGA tour card — no matter how long it took.


Streelman turned pro in 2001 and worked his way up through several professional mini-tours, including the Hooters, Nationwide and Gateway tours. On Dec. 3 at age 29, his dedication was rewarded with a 14th-place finish in the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament at Winter Garden, Fla.


“I was going to stay with it until I didn’t see improvement in my game,” Streelman said. “I turned professional in ’01. I put in an incredible amount of hard work to get this far. A lot of people look at what I do as a lot of glitter and glamor, country clubs and all that stuff, but it’s a ton of hard work.


“I knew I had the ability. I feel I was very focused and driven. There’s a lot of pressure, but I was driven to succeed.”


Wheaton Warrenville South Athletic Director Bob Quinn wasn’t surprised that Streelman had the ability and the perseverance to qualify for the PGA Tour. Those were traits he saw in the 1997 WWS graduate when Streelman was his freshman point guard alongside Tim Brylka.


“His success is clearly related to his personality,” Quinn said. “A lot of young people are great golfers, but that doesn’t equate to earning a PGA Tour card. Heck, there were 160 people with him at Q-School, but only 26 of them had the mental makeup to get it done. He’s a great golfer and a great athlete, but he also has the qualities of intelligence, character, determination and work ethic.”


That may be one reason why he was hard to reach a day after finally making the cut.


The voice mail on his cellphone was overflowing with congratulations from well-wishers who knew how much Streelman had invested to make it past the grueling three-stage qualifying phase.


“It was my fifth or sixth trip,” Streelman said, “but my first time in the finals. It’s really gratifying.”


Streelman is anxious to embark on the PGA chapter of his professional career. He hopes to be included in the field at either the Mercedes-Benz Championship Jan. 4-7 at Kapalua on the island of Maui or the Sony Open in Hawaii Jan. 11-14 in Honolulu.


Both tournaments offer purses in excess of $5 million.


“Hopefully, I’ll get into one of those tournaments in Hawaii at the first of the year,” Streelman said. “They say I’ve got a pretty good chance.”


Streelman is coming off his most successful season as a golfer. He notched three wins on Gateway tour and one on Hooters tour during 2007. He also placed fourth in The Ultimate Game, a $2 million showcase event for PGA aspirants. He earned $25,000 for making the finals.


The Winfield native birdied four of his last five holes in the first stage of Q-School to set himself up with a chance to earn his card. In the second segment, he tied for medalist honors.


In the fifth and final round of the qualifying tournament, he started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 10, 12, 14 and 15. His comfort zone began slipping on the last 18 holes.


However, a double bogey and a pair of bogeys put Streelman in jeopardy with three holes remaining.


He saved par on No. 16, pulled out a birdie on No. 17 and made par on the last hole to lock in a slot on the tour.


“I pretty much knew before I got to No. 18,” Streelman said. “I was 16-under and I knew if I could stay 15-under, I’d get a PGA card. I got down to a three putt, but it lipped out. I tapped in for par. It was the greatest feeling.”


Streelman has played in four PGA events: the AT & T National Pro-Am, the Western Open, the FBR Open and the Greater Milwaukee Open. He won $21,694 in tying for 29th place in the Greater Milwaukee Open in 2005.


When Streelman played the Western Open in 2003, Quinn walked the course with him for nine holes. Their backyards bordered on each other, so the Tigers AD has known Kevin and his family for years.


“I’ve watched him grow up as a young professional athlete,” Quinn said. “I would have been tighter than a ram’s horn in that situation. I’d probably mess it up, too. But Kevin was relaxed and comfortable with himself.”


There’s a 10-minute video of Streelman that sums up his last 24 hours of Q-School and contains comments from Streelman on the homepage at PGAtour.com. Quinn said he feels it sums up the former WWS three-sport athlete quite well.


“It’s a great family. Kevin, his mom and dad,” Quinn said, referring to Dennis and Mary Lou Streelman, ”and his brother (Jim) and sister (Kristin) are great people. One of the things it points out is how much of a family thing this is.


“Kevin comes from a good family structure and he works hard. He’s very comfortable in his own skin. (In the Western), he was very much at peace with himself, regardless of what happened.”


Quinn remembers Streelman not only as a point guard, but as a doubles player who earned a state tennis medal  for a seventh-place finish and a baseball player who could have made the varsity if he had gone that direction.


He recalled a chat he had with WWS assistant athletic director Mike Healy last fall in which they concluded Streelman had been sometimes overlooked in the school’s pantheon of stars among the Jon Beutjers, Jon Schweighardts, Dan Dierkings, Jeremy and Tyler Sonkins, Eric Channings and Tim Brylkas.


Streelman’s high school accomplishments have now been superseded by what he has done as a college golfer at Duke University and as a professional, if only as a body of work over time.


“I’ve been doing it for more than five years,” Streelman said, “hoping that at some point I was going to make it. I was going to keep trying as long as I felt I was continuing to make progress. I’ve continued to grow as a golfer.”


Streelman is well aware that earning the PGA card is one level of achievement, but being successful enough to remain on the tour means taking his game to a higher level.


“Hopefully, I’ll get off to a great start,” Streelman said, “and keep it rolling.”


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