It is the tournament that gave us Furyk’s 58, the bunker-shot-hole-out-mid-air-Spieth-Geller-hip-bump, Streelman’s final-nine 28 and, last year, Bubba’s amazing, come-from-six-shots-back victory.
The Travelers Championship is nothing if not late-inning heroics.
Now, with major champions Keegan Bradley and Louie Oosthuizen, along with Kevin Kisner (who will surely win one soon), joining the fray, who isn’t predicting another photo finish?
Presently the field includes 16 of the top 25 players in the world and enough major championship winners to populate every Pro-Am foursome. Besides Oosthuizen and Bradley: 2019 PGA Champion Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Francesco Molinari, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed. (All of the major winners from 2018).
There are also those who, like Kisner, could very well win one soon: Tony Finau, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Cantlay. And, in addition to Molinari and Day, an international contingent that has made Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup competitions, as well, challenge the Americans: Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman.
That said, this year’s competitors will have a hard time matching the drama of recent past.
Last year Bubba Watson shot 63 on Sunday to overcome a six-shot deficit and win his third Travelers Championship.
In 2017, Jordan Speith holed out from the right green side bunker on 18 to win by one over Daniel Berger. Caddie Michael Geller got into the celebration outside the bunker. You’ve seen the video.
In 2016 Jim Furyk, making the turn on Sunday in 27, shot 31 on the back to record the lowest round of 613,000 in PGA Tour history.
In 2015 Watson birdied the second playoff hole to defeat Paul Casey.
In 2014 Kevin Streelman, tied 20th and five shots back heading into the final nine on Sunday, shot 28, finishing the round with seven consecutive birdies to win.
In 2012 Marc Leishman shot 62 in the final round to win for the first time on the PGA Tour and become only the fifth international winner.
In 2010 Watson won for the first time here, coming from six shots back and defeating Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank in a playoff.
It’s hard not to mention, finally, Phil Mickelson’s back-to-back wins in 2001 and 2002, his first using a 61 on Saturday to win by one.
In short, one could build a PGA Tour highlight reel on the Travelers alone.
This sort of drama is why the Travelers routinely draws crowds of about 300,000 and sells enough tickets to give $2 million to charity. (Last year Bubba helped with a donation of $200,000 of his own).
“It’s not normal,” Tournament Director Nathan Grube has said. “This is a special, special community. When I say the community, I mean this state, and how they support the tournament, and how they make the players feel.”
This year the state’s new governor, Ned Lamont, will be the honorary starter.