PGA Tour: Hartford's Travelers: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue 02 Aug 2016, 7:18 pm

First topic message reminder :

1).The PGA Of America have the excellence of Jimmy Walker's and Jason Day's golf, and the Baltusrol grounds crew, to thank for an absorbing conclusion to last week's PGA Championship. The Logistics staff of the PGA chose a lousy time to take the week off and reaction to weather delays, course flooding and condition sometimes seemed hapless, but no-one could argue with the final result as a worthy Champion was crowned.

2).Henrik Stenson was the only European to get into Sunday's argument, but he seemed to run out of inspiration, finally falling asleep in the 15th fairway and taking five to get down from 145 yards. Otherwise, nice tournaments from Kaymer and Harrington, Hatton and Casey, and good to see Gregory Bourdy continue a very good season with his second 18th place finish in the last two US Majors.

3).Some good stories behind last week's headlines:
Most especially the odyssey of Jimmy Walker's caddie, Andy Sanders, one-time hot-shot collegiate golfer (and rival of Jimmy Walker) and up and coming pro who was diagnosed with MS early in his Nationwide (as the circuit was known then) career. Efforts to continue his pro golf career were unsuccessful so he got into caddying, finally helping Walker out with his putting, and taking his bag full-time eight years ago. He still undergoes monthly treatments, but otherwise continues his new career. With obvious success in a way they possibly wouldn't have imagined when they played a US Amateur practice round together in 2000. At Baltusrol.

4).What about Padraig Harrington??!! A terrific result to finish 13th, only his second Top 15 finish since his improbable win last year at the "Honda", and his best Major result since finishing 4th behind Webb Simpson in the 2012 US Open. Padraig's playing this week's "Travelers Championship" at Hartford, a course where he's always popular and often played well.
He'll need a top finish, probably about a Top 6, this week to qualify for the FedEx Play-Offs, because he's off to Rio and fully intends to embrace the Olympic experience and opportunity. So he won't be at next week's John Deere event or Greensboro the week after.
Wouldn't you think he's a realistic dark horse for a Rio medal? Apart from anything else, he's one of very few players in the field with a win in Brazil, albeit in Sao Paolo, and a runner-up in Rio, both in 2000.  

5).Padraig's fellow PGA Champ, Rich Beem, also made quite a splash. With PXG clubs he would have had to pay for himself, but his credit card was maxed out. After his opening 69 he asked PXG if that was good enough to get the sticks for free, and apparently it was as Beemer went on to make his first PGA Tour cut since the 2012 PGA Championship. No word yet as to whether that will be good enough for him to ditch the microphone and go back to competition, but I think we know the answer.

6).TNT TV's coverage of the first two days was nigh on unwatchable but perhaps Beem might have a new competitor plying his trade as an on-course commentator. Mike Weir did the duties for TNT and was really quite good. Like Beem he's pretty much exhausted his Tours' (European & PGA) status so perhaps he'll find a home along the fairways (which he's been having trouble finding for a few years now). They're both the same age (46) so have four good years ahead of them before they take up Champions Tour residence.

7).The Travelers Championship is played at TPC River Highlands, a relatively short course outside Hartford, Connecticut, just a couple of hours to the East of Baltusrol. The course has been remodelled several times and has had a facelift since we were there last year. A few dozen bunkers were removed, and most of those remaining have been redefined, in some cases moved to bring the course up to date. Bubba Watson has won here twice and is one of a surprisingly high number of participants to be competing in advance of their Olympic action. Fellow USA Team members Kuchar and Reed are also playing, plus Harrington, Kjeldsen & Cejka.

8).There was nervousness that a revised date, about seven weeks later than its usual post US Open slot, would water down the quality of the field, but not so. With a current estimate of 50 owgr points to the winner, this year's event would have a marginally stronger field than the best of the past ten years.

9).There can't be many PGA Tournaments that are better managed than The Travelers, with a world-class practice range and everything the fan could reasonably want on-site; plus ample accommodation and Interstate highways within a couple of miles. European Tournament Directors take note. Hopefully the weather gods will strike a happy medium between the burned out vision of Glen Abbey two weeks ago and last week's saturated course.
Fine weather is expected and the tweaks to the course may be just enough to give second thoughts to the course specialists like Bubba who probably think they can sleepwalk round and still shoot 66. Ryan Moore has sleepwalked through the summer, but I'm hoping he'll wake up in time to reward an e.w. investment. Who knows with him?

10).A glance at last year's leaderboard illustrates the fickle nature of the game.
Among those following Bubba home were DeLaet (4th then, but recently took time away from the game to deal with chipping yips) and Carl Pettersson (5th, but has struggled this year and isn't even making the trip). Zach Johnson was 6th and a month later earned a Claret Jug, but Van Pelt was in 7th place and he hasn't been seen for six months.
Freddie Jac (2011) is the only European winner in the tournament's 65-year history, but Sergio & Casey have runnered up the past two years and there's a strong contingent here this time. As well as Harrington, Knox and Laird who have all played well here, we have Casey & Donald (7th last year), Hatton, Rahm, Molinari, Kjeldsen, Lowry and others.  
But this is a wonderfully user-friendly tournament, the biggest show around for the community, and I'm looking forward to telling you later this week that we saw a great 72 holes of golf.

Last edited by kwinigolfer on Wed 03 Aug 2016, 2:49 am; edited 4 times in total


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Post by MontysMerkin on Wed 10 Aug 2016, 11:53 am

Got the lottery numbers?

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