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Valspar leader had PGA Tour rules folks check with USGA rules folks before putting new gadget in play

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Douglas P. DeFelice

The early returns for Kevin Streelman on the PGA Tour in 2024 have not been all that impressive. In six starts, the 45-year-old has made just one cut, a T-32 at the Puerto Rico Open. So it was that his opening-round 64 at the Valspar Championship, which earned him the Day 1 lead, was particularly welcome news for the two-time tour winner who counts among those two victories a triumph at Innisbrook Resort in 2013.

In the midst of his 17th season on tour, Streelman posted the only bogey-free round of the day and his lowest score since July despite hitting just four fairways. So how does he explain the impressive score?

How about putting a new ball-marker.

Yep, Streelman cited a gadget he tried earlier in the week on the Copperhead course. It’s round like other ball-markers, as Streelman described it, but the top has a line on it and can spin around to help you align the marker with the hole. To allow the marker to spin without moving from its spot on the green, the marker has a longer normal spike to anchor it into the ground.

Streelman said it “kind of gives you some visual cues that I think are pretty helpful. I was using that today, which I think kind of helped as well. It was one of those … the putter just felt great and I saw the lines and was rolling it great and was able to drop some putts.”

Streelman said he’s not sure who makes the marker but that somebody put it in his locker this week. After fooling around with it in the pro-am, Streelman wanted to put it in play, but also wanted to make sure it was conforming. “I went to the rules guy and said ‘is this legal?’, and he called the USGA and said ‘yeah,” so I was like ‘all right.’ I putted well with it.”

Indeed, he need just 24 putts, including 10 straight one-putt greens, before finishing eighth in strokes gained/putting.

According to an Associated Press report, Streelman did have to have to do one thing to the marker to make sure it was conforming. The report said that the spike could be no longer than one inch. To be sure of that, Streelman filed down the spike to get it inside that guideline.

That said, almost anything can actually be used as a ball marker under USGA rules, as our rules expert Ron Kaspriske wrote last fall. That includes a beer can, as European Tour pro Brian Barnes once employed. Unlike Streelman, he did not shoot a 64 that day.