It's the 'haves' vs. the 'have nots' Sunday at Travelers

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June 23, 2012
Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

CROMWELL, Conn. -- Between them, they've gone 547 starts without a win on the PGA TOUR.

If there's a place that streak could end, it's the Travelers Championship, where first-time winners are born.

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Four of the last six years, a player has recorded his maiden victory at TPC River Highlands. Brian Davis, Roland Thatcher or James Driscoll could make it five of the last seven.

Davis, who has finished second an excruciating five times in his career, shares the lead at 12 under with Thatcher, who has recorded his best rounds of the season in each of the first three here.

Driscoll is two shots back and tied for third with John Rollins and Stuart Appleby, both of whom have of course won before.

So have Padraig Harington and Matt Kuchar and Tim Clark and Charley Hoffman and Fredrik Jacobson.

Will Claxton has not.

It's the haves and the have-nots, though the latter seems to have the advantage around here for some reason.

Just ask Bubba Watson. He won for the first time in his career here two years ago. Things have worked out pretty well since.

"No idea," Harrington said when asked why first-time winners seem to be crowned here with some regularity. "Certainly not going to be mulling over that one."

Driscoll had a hard time explaining the pattern, too.

"It's the type of course where there's a lot of risk and reward," he said. "I don't know. I can't give you a reason. I'm kind of surprised that there aren't more veterans that do well here because it's kind of a tricky golf course."

Even Arnold Palmer got his first win -- in the U.S. anyway -- here when it was known as the Insurance City Open and played at Wethersfield Country Club.

"It's going to be interesting," Thatcher said. "It's going to be exciting one way or the other. I hope it's going to be positive for me, but there's varying levels of positive results. It's not just about the win."

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Projected points
The race for spots in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup continues this week. Click to see who's making moves. Projections

Actually it is, even if Thatcher hasn't made a cut since March.

In fact, it should only be about the win maybe more for Thatcher than anyone else. After all, he once saw his chances for a TOUR card disappear onto the roof of the clubhouse at Bear Lakes in the final round of q-school in 2001.

"There's going to be stretches where I play well and where I don't play well," Thatcher continued. "If this is one of those weeks where I can close it out, it's going to be a real good week."

Indeed.

A win for Thatcher would mean more than just 500 FedExCup points and a two-year exemption on TOUR.

Ditto for Driscoll, who grew up an hour north of here and still calls Boston home part of the year.

A star amateur, Driscoll once beat Luke Donald to advance to the final match of the 2000 U.S. Amateur and seemed destined to be a winner on TOUR, too.

More than a decade later he's still waiting.

Interview: Thatcher

Following his third-round 65, Roland Thatcher reflects on his play in the 2012 Travelers Championship.

"You've just gotta stay focused on yourself and your game and not get wrapped up in the leaderboard and all that stuff," Driscoll said.

Easier said than done.

Just ask Davis, who lost to Jim Furyk in a playoff two years ago the Verizon Heritage, where he famously called a penalty on himself when his club grazed a reed in a hazard.

He probably would've lost anyway that afternoon given the situation, but you figure he's due some good karma.

"People still come up to me, stop me in the airport," Davis said, reflecting back on that moment. "At the time I didn't realize what impact it was going to have. Obviously I was devastated I didn't win the tournament, but what came after that and the publicity I got for not only golf but doing the right thing was a good thing."

A win for any of these guys would be pretty good, too.

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