PGA Tour's Streelman shares message of hope at Christian Heritage Breakfast

loberle@beaufortgazette.comApril 15, 2014 

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His days were once defined by his scorecard -- a smile on his face when he played well; thrown clubs and slammed doors when he didn't.

But after receiving a gift from his brother, PGA Tour pro Kevin Streelman began a Christian journey that changed his outlook and his behavior.

Streelman, who is playing in this week's RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, spoke Tuesday to about 400 people at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes' Christian Heritage Breakfast. His caddie, A.J. Montecinos, joined him at the event at the Marriott Resort, and the two told how they use golf as a platform to glorify God, share love and inspire others to do the same.

At age 27, Streelman's brother gave him a book, "Golf's Sacred Journey," a story of a young professional golfer who redefines success in the game. It was the fifth time he'd been given the book -- previously by friends in the golf community -- but this time Streelman finally read it, thinking God must be trying to tell him something.

In it, Streelman saw himself -- the young professional chasing glory but never fulfilled.

"This game, you can never beat it," said Streelman, now 35. "I didn't want to be a golf score. I want my existence and my legacy to be about a lot more than how well I was able to hit a white golf ball off a tee."

Growing up in Wheaton, Ill., Streelman's family were active church members, his mother the choir director. Born in November, newborn Streelman served as baby Jesus in the church's Nativity scene.

But church was something he did on Sundays.

After reading "Golf's Sacred Journey," Streelman said he realized his faith needed to be the focus of his entire life.

Driving to the golf course each day, he listens to K-Love and The Message radio stations to "get some good songs in my heart and in my mind." Before teeing off at each hole during tournaments, Steelman says a quick prayer asking for peace.

Since becoming Streelman's caddie two years ago, Montecinos has also served as a spiritual support. They memorize a Bible verse together each week, and remind each other to turn to God through both good and bad.

After winning the Tampa Bay Championship last March, Streelman said they ran down the fairways singing "Worn," by the Christian band Tenth Avenue North: "Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. ... And all that's dead inside can be reborn. 'Cause I'm worn."

The 2013 season was the best of Streelman's career. After the Tampa Bay Championship, he followed up his first PGA Tour victory with runner-up finishes at the Heritage and the Players Championship. He topped $3 million in earnings and finished 14th in the FedEx Cup points standings.

But Streelman considers the birth of his daughter, Sophie, last December his greatest win yet.

"I was playing unbelievable golf, and all I wanted to do was go home and see my baby," Streelman said. "Those times in my life when golf wasn't very important, I was able to play really well."

Streelman admits he sometimes struggles to keep an even keel. After finishing 42nd at the Masters last week, his wife gave him space while he was upset.

"Then we came together and prayed together and moved on," Streelman said.

His message Tuesday was one of hope and encouragement, not perfection.

"Like any human, I'm broken and lost," Streelman said. "I'm not perfect now. We never are on this earth. But when we put our faith in Jesus, it gives us an identity and a fullness that no matter what, you can find fullness and contentment in this world that's as good as it gets, that's just preparation for what's next."

Follow reporter Laura Oberle at

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