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SHO and Tell: The Latest on The Shell Houston Open
SHO and Tell: The Latest on The Shell Houston Open
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Phil Blackmar
Phil Blackmar (1997)
TPC at The Woodlands
Travelers Championship - June 17, 2008

TPC River Highlands

Cromwell, CT
Par: 35-35—70Yards: 6,837
FedExCup Points: 25,000Winner: 4,500
Purse: $6,000,000Winner: $1,080,000
2007 Champion: Hunter Mahan (265, -15)

Travelers Championship Notes

A year ago, Jay Williamson turned in his best PGA TOUR finish when, playing on a sponsor’s exemption as a non-PGA TOUR member, he tied Hunter Mahan through 72 holes before falling in a one-hole playoff. Williamson and Justin Rose were the only players in the field to record four sub-70 rounds at the par-70 TPC River Highlands. The $648,000 Williamson earned for finishing second was 77.5 percent of his total TOUR earnings in 2007 ($835,515). Because he was a non-member, Williamson earned no FedExCup points a year ago and didn’t place on the final money list. But his total earnings would have left him in 124th place, between Jeff Maggert and Kevin Stadler. Williamson’s previous-best earnings season on the TOUR came in 2004 when he won $660,038.

Despite 25-year-old Hunter Mahan winning last year, numerous PGA TOUR veterans made strong showings in Connecticut. Of the 12 players who finished in the top 10, six were 40 or older, led by 51-year-old Fred Funk (fifth). The others were Tom Lehman (48, tied for sixth), Vijay Singh (44, fourth), Billy Mayfair (41, tied for ninth), Jay Williamson (40, second) and David Toms (40, tied for sixth).

By winning in 2007, Hunter Mahan became the 13th player to win his first PGA TOUR title at the Travelers Championship. Others who have achieved that feat in the last 15 years include Stewart Cink (1997), Brent Geiberger (1999) and J.J. Henry (2006).

Kirk Triplett still holds the TPC River Highlands’ 18-hole record. Triplett shot a 9-under 61 in 2000. Hunter Mahan came close to Triplett’s record in 2007. He opened the tournament by shooting a 62 that is the lowest first-round score in tournament history. Mahan’s 62 matched Fred Funk’s 62—the lowest starts by eventual winners in 2007. Funk won the Mayakoba Golf Classic at Riviera Maya.

It was quite a year for Hunter Mahan in 2007. Not only did he win his first TOUR event at the Travelers Championship, he was also a member of the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team, where he fashioned a 2-3-0 record. He finished 15th in the FedExCup, set a career high in earnings ($2,858,995) and had one of the five double eagles in 2007 (No. 11 at THE PLAYERS Championship). He also was one of three players to record three eagles in one round (Nos. 9, 11 and 18 in the first round of the Canadian Open).

In his last two Travelers Championship starts, Hunter Mahan tied for second in 2006 and won in 2007. He’s pocketed $1,467,200 in those two starts. In the previous three tournaments, Mahan joins Woody Austin and Nick Watney as players who have recorded two top-10s. Austin, the 2004 champion, tied for ninth in 2005 and tied for fifth in 2006. Watney tied for ninth in both 2005 and 2006. Watney missed the cut in 2007, while Austin tied for 43rd. Mahan did not play in 2005.



    • Hunter Mahan won last year’s Travelers Championship after finishing second the previous year. He’s the fourth player in the history of the event to perform that feat joining Wayne Levi (1989-90), Nick Price (1992-93) and Greg Norman (1994-95).
    • One more on Mahan: He closes well at the Travelers Championship. He’s shot 65 in the final round in each of the last two seasons.
    • This streak will continue. Hale Irwin remains the last player to win the U.S. Open and then win the following week. Irwin accomplished this back in 1990.
    • Several players made quantum leaps in the FedExCup standings thanks to their finishes at the U.S. Open. Runner-up Rocco Mediate had the biggest leap going from 127th all the way to 48th (+79) while Lee Westwood gained 52 spots to reach 72nd and Eric Axley jumped up 30 places to 125th on the list.
    • With his U.S. Open victory, Tiger Woods now has 13 wins in his native state of California. He’s won two U.S. Opens, six Buick Invitationals, two World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championships, one Mercedes-Benz Championship, one AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and one WGC-CA Championship.
    • When Justin Leonard ousted Robert Allenby from the playoff recently at the Stanford St. Jude Classic, it snapped Allenby’s perfect playoff record of 10-0 worldwide and 3-0 on the PGA TOUR. It also erased the Shell Houston Open’s claim of being the only event on TOUR with two former champions sporting unblemished multiple tournament playoff records. Allenby won the Shell Houston Open in 2000 while Phil Blackmar won in 1997 and ended his TOUR career with a 3-0 playoff mark.


    • Jay Haas will be looking for his third consecutive Champions Tour victory when he tees it up this week at the Bank of America Championship outside of Boston. He’ll also be looking to win his second consecutive title in that event. The Bank of America Championship has seen a number of players successfully defend their titles—Don January (1983-84), Chi Chi Rodriguez (1986-87-88), Bob Charles (1989-90), Hale Irwin (1997-98) and Larry Nelson (2000-01).
    • One more on Haas: When he won last year in Boston, Haas was coming off a two-week break following his victory at the Principal Charity Classic. Guess what? He’s coming off a two-week break this year following a win at the Principal Charity Classic.
    • He’s off to the slowest start of his brilliant Champions Tour career, but a visit to Boston might just be the tonic for Hale Irwin. In 10 starts at the Bank of America Championship, Irwin has won twice, finished second twice and has failed to shoot par-or-better in just one of his 30 rounds.


    • There were 52 former and 11 current Nationwide Tour players in the field at last week’s U.S. Open. Six of them recorded Top-10 finishes—D.J. Trahan (T4), John Merrick (T6), Eric Axley (T9), Heath Slocum (T9), Brandt Snedeker (T9) and Camilo Villegas (T9).
    • The Tour is in Tennessee this week for the Knoxville Open presented by Food City. The tournament is one of the four original events remaining from the first Nationwide Tour season of 1990. The others are the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr. Pepper, the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open and the Albertsons Boise Open presented by First Health.
    • Six winners of the Knoxville Open presented by Food City have gone on to win on the PGA TOUR—Jeff Maggert (1990), Brian Henninger (1992), Tom Scherrer (1995), J.J. Henry (2000), Heath Slocum (2001) and Vaughn Taylor (2003). Only one other event on the Tour has seen more of its winners go on to victory on the PGA TOUR. That would be the Nationwide Tour Championship which has seen seven of its winners go on to also win on the PGA TOUR

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