|Travelers Championship - June 18, 2007
TPC River Highlands
Par: 35-35—70Yards: 6,820
FedExCup Points: 25,000 Winner: 4,500
Purse: $6,000,000Winner: $1,008,000
2006 Champion: J.J. Henry (266, -14)
Travelers Championship Notes
Last year, J.J. Henry fired a 7-under par 63 in the third round en route to a three-stroke victory over Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore. The victory made Henry the 11th player to claim his first PGA TOUR win at the Travelers Championship. Henry was the first to do so since Brent Geiberger in 1999.
J.J. Henry’s 63 during last year’s third round was the lowest score of the tournament, matched only by Joe Ogilvie in the second round. Those 63s were two shots shy of the TPC River Highlands course record, posted by Kirk Triplett in 2000 and Phil Mickelson and Scott Verplank in 2001.
Two of the last three Travelers Championships have been decided by playoffs. In 2004, Woody Austin defeated Tim Herron, and in 2005 Rhode Island resident Brad Faxon defeated Tjaart van der Walt.
With his 2006 win, J.J. Henry became the 11th player to make this event his first win on the PGA TOUR. The others are Bob Toski (1953), Charlie Sifford (1967), Don Bies (1975), Phil Blackmar (1985), Mac O’Grady (1986), Mark Brooks (1988),
Billy Ray Brown (1991), Stewart Cink (1997), Olin Browne (1988) and Brent Geiberger (1999).
A native of Fairfield, J.J. Henry became the first Connecticut-born player to win the event in its 55-year history.
Last year, the par-4 first hole ranked as the second-toughest hole all week. At 434 yards, it yielded 47 birdies opposed to 105 bogeys or worse.
Players from the United States have dominated this event in recent years, with American-born players winning the last 11 tournaments. In 1993 and 1994, South Africa’s Nick Price and David Frost prevailed, respectively, followed by Australia’s Greg Norman in 1995. Since then, Americans have won, with only one international player finishing in the runner-up position. In 2005, South Africa’s Tjaart van der Walt lost in a playoff to Brad Faxon.
With his tie for second at last week’s U.S. Open, Tiger Woods increased his FedExCup lead to 3,706 points over Phil Mickelson. That margin is the largest any player has held this season, surpassing the 3,509-point lead Charles Howell III had on Mickelson after week 10.
Finishing well in a major championship is something U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera is accustomed to over the course of his career. His win at Oakmont Country Club last week was his second top-10 in the U.S. Open to go with his three top-10s at the Masters Tournament and two top-10s at the British Open.
This year, five players — Tiger Woods, Jerry Kelly, Justin Rose, David Toms and Paul Casey — have finished inside the top 10 at both the Masters Tournament and the U.S. Open. In 2006, no player had four top-10s in the majors, with Woods the only player to have three top-10s in those tournaments. Players with two top-10s at the majors a year ago were Angel Cabrera, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson, Geoff Ogilvy, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Steve Stricker and Mike Weir.
This week’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT, has crowned only three international champions in its 55-year history, and those three victories came in consecutive years. The winners were South Africa’s Nick Price and David Frost in 1993 and 1994, respectively, and Australia’s Greg Norman in 1995. The closest an international player has come to winning recently was South Africa’s Tjaart van der Walt, who lost in a playoff to Brad Faxon in 2005.
Travelers Championship defending champion J.J. Henry will be making his ninth start at his home-state event this week. The Fairfield, CT, native first played in the tournament as an amateur in 1998, tying for 56th. He then missed the cut in 1999, 2001 and 2002. He has made the cut in each of his last four starts and has earned $868,717.
Arjun Atwal has the current longest made-cuts streak on the Nationwide Tour. Atwal has played on the weekend in 10 consecutive events—six this season and four in 2001, the last year he was on Tour. Miguel Carballo is next, with nine consecutive made cuts. All have come this season.
Of the nine 2006 Nationwide Tour graduates who played in the U.S. Open, Ken Duke and Brandt Snedeker had the best finishes, both tying for 23rd. Five of the nine players made the cut.
Five players have been atop the money list this season, with Nick Flanagan the leader for the last five weeks. Flanagan has amassed $249,417 this year. Others who have led the money list include Miguel Carballo (one week), Scott Sterling (two weeks), Nicholas Thompson (two weeks) and Skip Kendall (four weeks).
At last week’s Rochester Area Charities Showdown at Somerby presented by Think, Jamie Lovemark, an amateur who just completed his freshman year at the University of Southern California, finished second behind winner Chris Riley. He is the second amateur to make the cut this season. Jason Anthony tied for 58th at the Livermore Valley Wine Country Championship earlier this season. In 2006, three amateurs — Thomas Hagler IV (T24 at the Chattanooga Classic), Luke List (T35 at the Chattanooga Classic) and Gipper Finau (T58 at the Utah EnergySolutions Championship) — made cuts at Nationwide Tour events.
Curtis Strange is making his first Champions Tour appearance in the Boston area this week at the Bank of America Championship. But he’s not unfamiliar with success in that part of New England. Strange won the first of his two U.S. Open titles at The Country Club in Brookline in 1988. He also had top-10 finishes at the Bank of Boston Classic in 1986 (T7) and 1987 (T5) and a T6 at the 1993 New England Classic.
Only three players have won both a PGA TOUR event and a Champions Tour event in Massachusetts. Arnold Palmer won the 1968 Kemper Open (Sutton) and the 1982 Bank of America Championship (Marlborough), Bob Gilder won the 1982 Bank of Boston Classic (Sutton) and the 2002 Bank of America Championship (Concord) and Bruce Fleisher won the 1991 New England Classic (Sutton) and the 2001 U.S. Senior Open (Peabody).