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June 14 2013

6:30 PM

First Look: Travelers Championship

The par-70 TPC River Highlands hosts the Travelers Championship. (Rogash/Getty Images)

FIELD LIST: Travelers Championship

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor

COURSE: TPC River Highlands, 6,841 yards, par 70. Situated on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River, River Highlands is the third rendition for the parcel where golf has been played since 1928. Pete Dye did the redesign in 1982, with former PGA TOUR pros Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie serving as consultants on an upgrade seven years later. Peter Jacobsen triumphed when the Greater Hartford Open relocated there in 1984, then turned back the clock 19 years later to win it again. In 2003, Suzy Whaley made history there as the first woman in nearly 60 years to play a PGA TOUR event as a qualifier.

FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.

CHARITY: New England Charities, which has given more than $30 million to various organizations since its formation in 1952. This year’s list of 111 charities includes Johnson Memorial Hospital, the Sound of New England Chorus, Holy Family Home & Shelter and Christian Community Action.

FIELD WATCH: U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and seven other players among the top 25 in the world rankings join defending champion Marc Leishman in the lineup. The list also includes No. 11 Lee Westwood and No. 12 Keegan Bradley. … In all, River Highlands will feature 47 players who teed it up at Merion in the U.S. Open. … Chris Williams, No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, makes his professional debut after finishing his college career at Washington. Justin Thomas, who led Alabama to its first NCAA title earlier this month, will play on a sponsor exemption as an amateur.

72-HOLE RECORD: 258, Kenny Perry (2009).

18-HOLE RECORD: 60, Tommy Bolt (second round, 1954 at Wethersfield CC), Patrick Cantlay (second round, 2011).

LAST YEAR: Leishman overcame a six-shot deficit with an 8-under-par 62 for his final round, waiting nearly 2 and a half hours before learning it was enough for his first PGA TOUR victory. Remarking to his caddie before the round that he felt he needed a 61 to get into contention, the Aussie went out and made eight birdies in a bogey-free day. Even so, it wasn’t until Charley Hoffman’s double bogey/bogey finish that he could celebrate. Hoffman held a two-shot lead coming to No. 17, where his tee shot found the water. Roland Thatcher also had a chance to tie, but bogeyed the 18th to finish behind runners-up Hoffman and 2010 champ Bubba Watson.

STORYLINES: Will the Travelers crown another first-time PGA TOUR winner? Five of its past seven champions fit that designation, including Leishman, Watson and Hunter Mahan (2007). … Lee Westwood, playing a full PGA TOUR schedule for the first time after relocating to Florida, will make his inaugural visit to TPC River Highlands. … Harris English, the winner two weeks ago at Memphis, is one of four entrants seeking to join Tiger Woods and Matt Kuchar as multiple winners in 2013. The others are Brian Gay (Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation), John Merrick (Northern Trust Open) and Michael Thompson (Honda Classic).

SHORT CHIPS: As remarkable as Leishman’s victory was last year, it isn’t the biggest come-from-behind win in tournament history. That belongs to Brad Faxon, who came from seven shots back in 2005 to win in a playoff. … Phil Mickelson is the only man to win back-to-back in Hartford, claiming one-stroke victories in 2001-02. … Faxon is one of just four New Englanders to win in Hartford, joined by two-time champion Paul Azinger (1987, ’89), Bob Toski (1953) and J.J. Henry (2006). … UConn basketball coaches Geno Auriemma (women) and Kevin Ollie (men), plus ESPN’s Chris Berman, will tee it up in the Wednesday pro-am.

TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. EDT (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).

RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. EDT (SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio).

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