Alasdair Dyer, owner and operator of the Dyer Golf Academy at Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach, sent Kevin Streelman a congratulatory text Sunday night for his win in the Tampa Bay Championship on the tough Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort.
It was Streetman’s first victory on the PGA Tour in 153 events.
“I said, ‘Congratulations, you deserve it and don’t wait five years to get win No. 2,’ ” Dyer said.
“He said, ‘Working on it every day buddy.’ ”
Few would know that better than Dyer, considering he played a significant role in helping Streelman attain the status of being a PGA Tour winner.
Dyer was Streelman’s swing coach for approximately 3½ years through May 2011, and helped him rise from being a longtime mini-tour player to being a consistent performer on the PGA Tour.
“He’s grateful for everything we did,” Dyer said. “Obviously the things we did were a foundation for where he got to.”
Dyer rightfully shared in some of Streelman’s joy Sunday and was proud of his former pupil. He said he and Streelman remain friends and regularly communicate.
“We spent 3½ years together,” Dyer said. “We won nearly 5 million as a team. … He went from a mini-tour player to a multi-millionaire. We had a great working relationship. He’s a very good guy. He’s very where he wants to be in life right now.”
Streelman, 34, who is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and conducts a Bible study on tour, met Dyer and started working with him while he was on the Grand Strand in September 2007 for an NGA Hooters Tour event at River Hills Golf & Country Club.
Dyer came to the Strand from England late in 2006 to be the senior instructor and academy director of what was then the Nick Bradley Golf School at Barefoot. He recounted Monday the circumstances that led to their working relationship.
Streelman had been working in 2007 with distinguished short game coach Stan Utley, leading to a breakthrough year. He won three 2007 Gateway Tour events in Arizona and one NGA Tour event.
But Streelman shot a 79 in the first round at River Hills en route to missing the cut, and felt the need to get his swing on the same level with his short game.
Streelman is a Duke graduate and was friends in college with Paul Tucker, who was caddying for him at River Hills. Tucker’s wife, Kristina, was a member of the LPGA Futures Tour and was one of Dyer’s pupils, and Streelman inquired about Dyer.
Streelman spent his weekend working with Dyer, leading to their long relationship.
In the first stage of the 2007 PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament, Streelman birdied four of his last five holes to qualify on the number for the second stage, where he shared medalist honors.
He tied Coastal Carolina alumnus Dustin Johnson for 14th at the Q-School finals, and earned more than $1 million in each of his first three years on tour, and earned a $1 million bonus in 2009 for finishing first in the season-long Kodak Challenge competition that counted a player’s best score on designated holes at designated tournaments.
Streelman recalled Sunday the progress he made in 2007, leading to his leap to the PGA Tour.
“I one time was leading the Gateway and Hooters Tour money lists and just felt really confident the way I was playing,” Streelman said. “My course average was close to 66 or 66.5 that summer so I went to Q-School sky high.”
Though Sunday’s victory was Streelman’s first, he had a few other legitimate chances to win during his time with Dyer.
He took a three-stroke lead into the final round of the 2010 Puerto Rico Open but shot a 73 and tied for third.
He also tied for third at The Barclays, a FedEx Cup Playoff event, in 2010 en route to earning nearly $1.5 million, and tied for third at the 2009 Mayakoba Classic in Cancun, Mexico.
Streelman’s coach is now Darren May, a native of London who heads instruction at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla. May is a skilled club-fitter who works with Robert Allenby and other tour players, and Dyer said he and Streelman used May for club advice in the past.
The meticulous Streelman has used May’s TrackMan golf swing and ball flight analysis system to delve deeper into his swing.
“I wasn’t deeply into TrackMan at that time, and he’s such a hard worker and so intense,” Dyer said. “It’s a path he wanted to go down. They work on much of the same things to a more finite degree. He’s such a disciplined worker he’s a bit [Nick] Faldo-esque that everything has to be precision, precision, precision. He wanted to do the same things in a different way to get it keyed up.”
Streelman earned $1.3 million in 2011 and actually had a down year in his first full year under May in 2012, falling outside the top 100 in earnings with less than $900,000. He’s been more consistent this year, finishing in the top 41 in six of eight events.
In part through his work with Dyer, Streelman has certainly earned his first PGA Tour win.
He logged hundreds of thousands of miles while wearing out three cars competing in events on the NGA, Gateway and Dakotas tours, as well as others. His last car before his PGA Tour success was an old Toyota Camry.
“I had too many rides in that Camry with too many miles on it to be safe,” Dyer said. “There had about 300,000 miles on it. It had more squeaks than any golf swing I’ve ever seen.”
Streelman had the one NGA Tour win and three runner-up finishes in two years on the Grand Strand-based tour.
After graduating from Duke in 2001, he played the Gateway Tour and lost all his money without making a cut, to his recollection. He was bailed on and abandoned in 2004 while in California by a group of investors near his hometown in Chicago after failing to qualify for the Northern Trust Open at Torrey Pines. “I called these guys in Chicago and to this day they have not picked up the phone,” Streelman said Sunday.
He called the number on a card he had from a California investor who helped get him through the rest of the year financially.
To support his golf career in the mid-2000s, Streelman caddied on weekends at prestigious Whisper Rock in Scottsdale, Ariz. – where he became the club champion in 2008 – and washed clubs weekdays at a nearby course where he would practice and play from 2 p.m. until dusk.
“It wasn’t too long ago I was in a car driving myself around, dead broke,” Streelman said.
From Russia with clubs
Dyer has another high-profile pupil these days.
He has been working with former world No. 1 tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia since December. Kafelnikov, 39, is dedicating two years of his life to see how good of a golfer he can become, possibly giving pro tours a shot if he can improve enough.
He and Dyer have been working a full week a month at Barefoot since December, and Kafelnikov is scheduled to be at the resort again later this month.
“He wants to be 101 percent into golf and see how good he can get,” Dyer said. “After two years he’ll see if he wants to pursue it. Of all the people I’ve met on this planet, I’ve never met a brain or a work ethic as this guy. His work ethic, desire and focus is unbelievable.”
Kafelnikov met Dyer through pupil Mark Nichols, a former European Tour member who has one of the world’s top short games. Nichols came to know Kafelnikov while teaching golf in Moscow, and has become his short game coach, playing partner, traveling companion and mentor. “He wants a practice partner that will push him in golf like he had in tennis,” Dyer said. Nichols observes all of Dyer’s lessons and keeps Kafelnikov on schedule with instruction in the three weeks between teachings. Dyer said Kafelnikov only dabbled in golf as a world-class tennis player, occasionally playing with rental sets at prestigious clubs while there for tennis events.
Kafelnikov won two Grand Slam titles – the 1996 French Open and 1999 Australian Open – as well as four Grand Slam doubles titles and a men’s singles gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
S.C. juniors dominate
The top eight boys and top eight girls junior golfers in South Carolina were dominant in the 15th annual Can-Am Junior Team Matches at Wachesaw Plantation Club, cruising to victory Sunday over the top juniors from Canada’s Ontario province.
The S.C. juniors won 256.5 to 175.5 improve to 12-3 in the matches, which recently added the girls competition and are scheduled to be played at Wachesaw at least through 2018.
The event consisted of four-ball matches Saturday and singles matches Sunday, with 18 points available per match and boys playing the par-72 course at 6,853 yards and girls playing 5,940 yards. In Sunday singles, the S.C. girls went 6-1-1 and the boys went 6-2.
No Grand Strand juniors qualified in the state’s 2012 point rankings to participate this year.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.