THE FIRST LOOK
First Look: Travelers Championship
June 16, 2017
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- Russell Knox held off hometown favorite Jerry Kelly last year on his way to his second PGA TOUR victory. (Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
• COURSE: TPC River Highlands, 6,841 yards, par 70. Golf has been played across this bluff overlooking the Connecticut River dating back to 1928, with River Highlands serving as the third layout over the property. Pete Dye embarked upon a complete overhaul of the property in 1982, and Bobby Weed added an upgrade seven years later in consultation with former PGA TOUR pros Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie. Nos. 15-17 play around a four-acre lake, helping create a finish considered among the most thrilling on TOUR. Last year, it became the site of the TOUR’s historic first 58, when Jim Furyk reeled off 10 birdies and holed out for eagle at the par-4 No.3.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
• CHARITY: New England Charities, which has designated the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp as its primary beneficiary. Founded by actor Paul Newman in 1988, the camp hosts more than 25,000 seriously ill children and family members annually for a week of outdoor activities. Since the tournament’s start in 1952, it has generated more than $36 million for more than 160 charities.
• FIELD WATCH: World No.2 Rory McIlroy and No.3 Jason Day, both of whom took early U.S. Open exits, join Furyk and defending champion Russell Knox at the top of the River Highlands lineup. … Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Paul Casey give the tournament five of the top 15 players in the latest world rankings. Casey lost a playoff to Bubba Watson in 2015. … Padraig Harrington, who withdrew from the FedEx St. Jude Classic after getting clipped on the elbow by an amateur he was coaching at a clinic, is set for a return to action. … Wyndham Clark, part of Oregon’s NCAA runner-up squad last month after transferring in from Oklahoma State, makes his professional debut on a sponsor exemption.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 258, Kenny Perry (2009).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 58, Jim Furyk (4th round, 2016).
• LAST YEAR: Russell Knox held off hometown favorite Jerry Kelly’s late charge to post his second PGA TOUR victory, though that finish wound up as second billing behind Furyk’s history-making 58 hours earlier. Furyk used six birdies and an eagle to fire a front-nine 27, then started his back nine with three more birdies before cooling off just slightly. One more birdie at the par-3 16th put him in line for history, and two more pars completed the task. Knox began his day three shots off Daniel Berger’s lead, moving in front when Berger began his back nine with four straight bogeys. Kelly used an eagle at No.13 to pull within a shot, with a chance at a playoff as Knox faced a 12-foot par save at No.18. The Scotsman made the putt, though, flinging his cap when it hit bottom.
• STORYLINES: McIlroy and Day seek to bounce back after a rough two days at Erin Hills, where neither recovered after opening rounds of 78 and 79. McIlroy makes just his eighth start of 2017, having sat out two stretches with rib problems. … River Highlands is set to feature 47 players who teed it up at Erin Hills for this week’s U.S. Open. … Six of the past 11 Travelers winners have made it their first on TOUR, including four in a row from Watson’s 2010 triumph to Ken Duke in 2013. … Just four New Englanders have won in Hartford, though two came back-to-back in 2005 (Brad Faxon) and 2006 (J.J. Henry). The others are Paul Azinger (1987, ’89) and Bob Toski (1953).
• SHORT CHIPS: With the Travelers back in its usual post-U.S. Open slot following last year’s Olympic shuffle, three of the six winners before Knox did not play the Open a week earlier. … In the event’s 64-year history, only Phil Mickelson (2001-02) has managed to win it back-to-back. … “Today” show host Matt Lauer, ESPN’s Chris Berman and UConn basketball coaches past (Jim Calhoun) and present (Geno Aureimma) top the marquee for the Wednesday celebrity pro-am. The lineup also includes former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and comedian Kevin Nealon.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
• PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (featured groups), 3:30-6:30 p.m. (featured holes). Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (featured holes).
• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).
For more on all the courses in the TPC network, visit TPC.com.
Play where the pros play. To book your tee time at TPC River Highlands, visit TeeOff.com.