New England’s regular season Tour stop has a special place
The US Open concluded on Sunday after four days of the hardest tournament in the year. Phil Mickelson broke the rules, Brooks Koepka won his second consecutive US Open, and Shinnecock Hills won the weekend. This week, the PGA Tour moves across Long Island Sound for a lighter weekend in Connecticut at one of the most entertaining events on the schedule, the Travelers Championship.
The Travelers Championship has existed in various forms since 1952. It started at the Wethersfield Country Club but since 1984, the tournament has been played at TPC River Highlands, a beautiful course in Cromwell, 20 minutes south of Hartford, Connecticut’s Capital. This tournament has been played the week after the US Open since 2007, and has established itself in that spot since.
The field for this year’s tournament is extraordinary, rivaling the biggest tournaments on the PGA. Seven of the top ten competitors for the FedEx Cup will be in Cromwell. Justin Thomas, second in the standings, leads the charge. Jason Day, Patrick Reed, Jim Furyk, Rory McIlroy, and many other big names will grace the course. All in all, this year’s Travelers brings 24 of the top 50 ranked golfers in the world to Connecticut. Jordan Speith is the defending champion and will be back again. Brooks Koepka won the US Open and will not take a break after the hardest tournament of the year. Phil Mickelson will not be there. That’s unfortunate, the fans love him in CT. Still, this is the deepest field Cromwell has ever seen. 18 of the 25 PGA event winners will travel to Cromwell.
Despite the deep field, this tournament has a tradition of being a springboard for future stars. Six of the last 12 winners have been first time winners. The notables in that category are Hunter Mahan (2007), Bubba Watson (2010), and Marc Leishman(2012). Watson’s victory was particularly noteworthy, as his father was battling cancer at the time. He had been a pro since 2003 and on the PGA since 2006 before finally winning a tournament in 2010. The Baghdad, Florida, native has remained a popular player in the Nutmeg state after he tearfully dedicated his win to his father.
There are a few notable people who could win their first tournament. Doug Ghim, the former Texas Longhorn, was the only amateur to advance to the weekend of this year’s Masters Tournament and won the 2018 Ben Hogan Award as the best collegiate male golfer. He will be making his first appearance as a professional.
Dylan Meyer and Nick Hardy are two former University of Illinois golfers making their second and fourth appearances as professionals. Meyer made the cut at the US Open last week and the two share a tight friendship. In 2017, Meyer was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and was bedridden. Hardy visited his friend and teammate in the hospital every day and Meyer recovered enough to help the Illini win the Big 10 Championship and reach the NCAA Tournament. The two share a touching connection and are talented golfers with the potential to earn a name for themselves in this tournament.
This tournament has a strong mix of decorated professionals, young potential stars, and quality professionals looking for wins. They’ll take to the Pro-Am on Wednesday with notable Connecticutians like Chris Berman, Stanley Cup Champions Nick Bonino and Ron Hainsey, Jim Calhoun, and Ray Allen, and begin the tournament on Thursday. Sports Talk Florida will be on the course for one of the PGA’s best events of the year.