The PGA Tour crossed the country from the US Open in Los Angeles to Cromwell, Connecticut for the Travelers event. This year the Travelers is a designated tour event requiring attendance from all of the top players. Weather conditions were about as perfect as you can get if you’re a PGA professional tour player–pleasant temperatures, no wind, soft greens and very little rough. The birdie barrage was on as the number “59” was in play throughout the event with a number of players shooting in the low 60’s including a 60 by Rickie Fowler in the third round. Keegan Bradley grabbed the lead and went low for 66 holes and threatened to bring down some records. The “gods of golf” or the ghost of Rip Van Winkle decided that Bradley would have to suffer some humiliation. On the 10th hole, it looked like Bradley was going to blitz through scoring records, the competition, the course etc. as he birdied the hole and then birdied the par 3, 11th hole. Then, out of nowhere, Bradley hit an indifferent tee shot and a few more indifferent shots to bogey the 12th hole and his lead would shrink against the pursuit of Patrick Cantlay. Bradley then started to “leak oil” as it seemed that he had lost what got him to this position in the first place and then seemed to “wish” that this tournament was over-except that his lead was shrinking, forget the records and now he had to focus on just winning. He bogied the easy short par 4, 14th hole and then just missed plunking his tee shot in the water on the par 3, 15th hole and would proceed to bogey this hole as well. Bradley went from complete domination of the event to limping to the finish line. He contained the damage with a strong iron shot on the tough 17th hole to secure a par with his previously insurmountable lead down to 3 shots. His tee shot on 18 found the left rough but he managed to coax an iron shot to 35 feet to close things out. He never really regained his form after 12 and I don’t think he would have won if there were more holes to play but a win is a win.
Golf is surely a strange game–Bradley was a golf god for 66 holes and limped to the finish line for the final six. The strange case of Rory McIlroy continued this week. On one of the final holes, his tee shot covered 384 yards and yet he missed the green with his approach shot. Another great tournament performance with the driver and he did manage 18 under par (5 strokes behind Bradley) but never seriously contended as the putts didn’t drop again. I still believe he is going to figure this out and has to be the favorite at the upcoming Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in a few weeks.
TPC River Highlands is a favorite of mine because the course offers the player the opportunity to use all of the clubs in the bag. The course was in incredible shape and despite the low scoring–players such as Jon Rahm, Colin Morakawa, Max Homa and Tommy Fleetwood missed the cut. The 17th hole is one of the best par 4’s on the tour as a dog leg right where the second shot has to completely cross the pond to land on the green. Any tee shot that misses the fairway really brings the water into play as there is no area to bail out. McIlroy missed the fairway on 17 and hit a terrific shot out of the rough from 178 yards–of course, he missed the putt.
The featured image in this piece is one of my tournament victories long ago in 1996. You always have positive things to say about a course where you have won but I believe that everyone that plays here enjoys it.