The Travelers Championship starts today at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. and while the previous three tournaments provided plenty of thrills, I have a feeling the Travelers may be the best yet.
First some unfortunate news–Brooks Koepka announced yesterday that he was withdrawing from the tournament because his caddie, Ricky Elliot, had tested positive for Covid-19. Web Simpson, Cameron Champ and Chase Koepka (Brook’s younger brother) also announced that they would withdraw. Although none of the players have tested positive, they each had been in close proximity to Brooks and his caddie, so felt that caution was the most prudent course—hopefully they will be returning soon. The field, however, will still be packed with big stars like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed. Now that Phil has joined the 50+ club, it will be interesting to see how he fares. A two-time winner at the Travelers, Phil is comfortable with the layout at River Highlands and with his window of opportunity closing a little bit more in a star-studded field, don’t be surprised if we see the hyper-aggressive Phil of years past. The Travelers will be the third tournament in a row for Thomas, Spieth, Rose, Johnson, Rahm, and McIlroy, so fatigue may start to become a factor—although they may also be super sharp after playing so much competitive golf. And with the exception of Johnson and McIlroy, all of them were in the hunt at the previous two events, but came up just short. Meanwhile, we are still eagerly awaiting the debut of Tiger Woods. While no official date has been set, Tiger was seen playing golf with his son Charlie on St. Simon’s Island, so perhaps he is starting to tune up for a return in the near future (The Memorial is a good bet, since Tiger has rarely missed Jack’s event).
The Travelers Championship is held at TPC River Highlands, a private club in Cromwell CT. The course, originally name Edgewood Country Club, was designed in 1928 by Robert R. Ross. Pete Dye did a redesign in 1982, modernizing and stiffening the course to stand up to current equipment as a TPC course, while maintaining the natural beauty of the landscape and layout. In 1989, the course underwent further remodeling and updating by Bobby Weed. As a par 70 measuring 6,841 yards from the tips, the softness of the course makes it play significantly longer, and tight fairways with small greens will present a challenge to the players. Still, River Highlands is considered one of the less demanding courses on the Tour schedule (USGA course rating of 73/Slope rating of 131). The course record of 58 was set by Jim Furyk in 2016, but the fact that he did not go on to win is evidence that River Highlands has teeth and can bite back.
Past champions at the Travelers include bombers like Bubba Watson (twice), Phil Mickelson (twice), and Greg Norman, as well as great putters like Jordan Spieth and Brad Faxon. Illustrious ball strikes including Nick Price, Paul Azinger and Lanny Wadkins have also claimed this championship, but precision and grit can carry the day—as seen with the reigning champion, Chez Reavie. Other past winners here include David Frost, Curtis Strange and Peter Jacobsen (twice).
With this field, on a course that allows so many different styles of play the opportunity to win, we should be in for a treat. Be sure to tune in, you will be glad you did.
Get the course details on the TPC River Highlands