CROMWELL — When it comes down to the final assessment, the 2014 Travelers Championship will go in the books as one of the most successful Connecticut stops on the PGA Tour in years.
So, without further adieu, here’s my personal report card for this year’s tournament.
I rode in from the media parking lot with a gentleman who had been working the Cromwell tournament for the past 43 years and proclaimed this week’s weather “to be the best in his memory” for all those years.
With four players in the top 10 of the World Rankings, plus Major winners in Masters champion Zach Johnson, two-time Major winner Angel Cabrera, PGA winner Keegan Bradley, PGA and British Open winner John Daly, two-time Masters Champion Bubba Watson, two-time U.S. Open winners Lee Janzen and Retief Goosen and British Open winners David Duval and Stewart Cink playing at the TPC at River Highlands course this week, the strongest field in tournament history was assembled in Cromwell.
Unfortunately, Tiger Woods is making his return from back surgery next week at Congressional, leaving the field one superstar short.
There were 19 players within five shots of the leader, Ryan Moore, heading into Sunday’s final round, including Spain’s Sergio Garcia at -11 and Harris English, the Tour’s top scorer with a 69.71 scoring average.
Kevin Streelman wound up walking away with the trophy by dropping in a record seven straight birdies on the back nine to surpass Garcia and K.J. Choi by one stroke.
Ask any PGA professional why he’s playing in Cromwell this week and the answer will probably come back “The Travelers.”
The insurance giant bends over backwards to make the players happy, including sending Chief Administrative Officer Andy Bessette on the recruiting trips and doing just about anything to make the golfers and their families’ stay in Cromwell enjoyable.
Fortunately, the Travelers has extended its sponsorship another 10 years to 2024, creating long-term stability for the tournament. This contributed greatly to the strength of this year’s field, including many of the world’s top golfers.
GRADE: A-plus for the fourth straight year.
For the umpteenth time, the Travelers Championship featured the professional debuts of several younger players, joining such established players as Charles Howell III, Justin Leonard, Stewart Cink and Patrick Cantley, who recorded a course-record 60 in his pro debut last year, as players who made their first professional starts in Cromwell.
This year featured Bobby Wyatt, who led the University of Alabama to back-to-back NCAA championships, Patrick Rodgers of Stanford, the world’s top-ranked amateur, Stanford teammate Cameron Mitchell, the NCAA individual winner, and Oliver Goss, the top-ranked player at the University of Tennessee.
Keeping the flow of young players establishes a sense of loyalty that pays off in future appearances out of a sense of loyalty to the tourney once the youngsters become household names.
So you can see, folks why the 2014 Travelers Championship will go down as one of the best ever staged in Cromwell at the TPC at River Highlands.