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Travelers Championship: Let the birdie barrage begin

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By Andrew Tursky 

GolfWRX Contributor

The carnage of missed 8-footers for par at the U.S. Open last week will be replaced by red numbers this week at the Travelers Championship.

With the dust settling in San Francisco at The Olympic Club, the PGA Tour moves 3,060 miles away to Cromwell, Conn., to play the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.  The 6,841-yard, par 70 layout this week will yield more sub-par rounds in the first day than we saw all last week at the U.S. Open.

Webb Simpson, now the No.5-ranked golfer in the world, is in the field for the Travelers Championship despite winning his first major just three days ago.  He was able to endure the rigors of a U.S. Open and emerge victorious with a 1-over par 281-stroke total last week.  This week, however, will be more about low numbers than mental endurance. Birdies will be a must.

Last year’s winner at the Travelers Championship, Fredrik Jacobson, made 21 birdies and only one bogey to finish at 20-under par for the event. Jacobson’s four-day total fell two shots shy of tournament record 258 strokes (22-under) set in 2009 by Kenny Perry.  Jacobson will be back in the field this year to defend his title after finishing T-15th at the U.S. Open.

The players won’t be complaining about a course that’s too firm, too fast or and too hard — this is not The Olympic Club.  The course is short in length and forgiving around the greens, allowing players to attack the flagstick.

Rounds in the low 60’s are not uncommon, even for the amateurs in the field.

Patrick Cantlay made headlines last year at the Travelers Championship, firing a 60 (10-under par) in Friday’s second round at TPC River Highlands, the lowest round ever on the PGA Tour by an amateur.

Cantlay is in the headlines again this year at the Travelers, announcing on Tuesday his decision to turn professional for this week’s event.  The long-awaited move by the world’s top ranked amateur comes after completing his sophomore year at UCLA.  It’s time for the Bruin to start cashing in on his success and earning full-time status on the PGA Tour.  Had he turned pro at the beginning of the 2012 season, Cantlay would have earned $61, 376 in two events.

Past champions Bubba Watson and Hunter Mahan will also be in the field this week, looking to redeem themselves after under-performing at the U.S. Open.

Watson, the 2010 Travelers champion, will look to regain his focus after missing the cut last week at the U.S .Open. He was vocal about his displeasure of the set-up at The Olympic Club.  The more forgiving layout of TPC River Highlands should better suit his liking.

Mahan, the 2007 Travelers Champion, will be looking to win his third PGA Tour event of the season. He was on the highlight reel last week more for his chunked chip shots than his stellar play, finishing T-38.

Matt Kuchar will be in the Travelers Championship field for the first time since 2008, when he finished T-52.  Kuchar returns as the No. 7-ranked golfer in the world and playing consistently well.  He holds the longest active streak of made-cuts on tour with 20, and has made the cut in all of his 13 events played this year. He will look to continue his steady play of 2012, which included a win at The PLAYERS Championship in May.

The players will fly cross-country, through a couple different time zones in search of birdies at TPC River Highlands.  The massacre of last week has concluded. Now let the birdie barrage begin.

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum.

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GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Janice Simone

    Jun 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Great Job A.J.

  2. E Gibney

    Jun 21, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Great article, Andrew!

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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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