CROMWELL, Conn. — It doesn’t have the aura of exclusivity of Augusta National.
It doesn’t have the 100-plus-year historical past of the Old Course at St. Andrews.
It doesn’t have the gorgeous ocean-view great thing about Pebble Beach.
It doesn’t have an iconic well-known gap just like the island inexperienced of TPC Sawgrass.
Yet yr after yr, TPC River Highlands, the host course for the Travelers Championship, is as a lot the star of the present as one of the best gamers on this planet who play it.
The place delivers.
Sunday’s ultimate spherical of the Travelers was no exception. It didn’t disappoint. It was a roller-coaster journey, leaving quite a lot of gamers queasy, not the least of which was three-time winner Bubba Watson, who spit up the lead on the again 9 by going 6-over-par on his ultimate 5 holes.
In the top, Harris English won it on the eighth playoff hole, a match file and the second-longest playoff in PGA Tour historical past.
The PGA Tour and the USGA can have their match programs which might be outlined by brute size requiring brute energy from gamers with a purpose to survive, programs the place it’s troublesome for gamers to make up floor on the leaderboard as a result of birdies develop into as straightforward to come back by as runs for the Yankees of late.
Give me TPC River Highlands, thanks. It’s a veritable golfers’ playground whether or not you’re a professional or a 15 handicap, a spot the place birdie and eagle alternatives reside all around the course, but so, too, does bother.
Is there a sporting occasion extra boring to look at than a golf match the place the course is so troublesome it makes is sort of not possible for these chasing the result in make up quite a lot of floor?
You watch and watch and watch and there’s virtually no motion on the board — #yawn.
TPC River Highlands is just not that course — as evidenced by the very fact that previously 12 Travelers Championships, solely three 54-hole leaders (Chez Reavie in 2019, Jordan Spieth in 2017 and Freddie Jacobson in 2011) went on to win.
Does that imply the course is just too straightforward?
Not in case you ask the 16 gamers who’ve held no less than a share of the 54-hole lead in that 12-year interval, solely 5 of whom managed to interrupt par within the ultimate spherical.
Volatility is thrilling in sports activities. Volatility is attractive. If we reward gamers for his or her thrilling play, TPC River Highlands ought to be praised for producing thrills yearly.
It’s no coincidence this match produces drama yearly. Remember Jim Furyk’s 58 in 2016, the bottom PGA Tour spherical ever recorded?
“It’s just hard to have the lead [at TPC River Highlands], because you feel like you should be making birdie on every hole, but if you start trying to birdie every hole, you can get yourself in really bad spots,” Marc Leishman stated. “It’s a kind of programs the place you are feeling like you need to shoot 65 each single time you play … and also you don’t.
“But someone does.”
Leishman was that “somebody’’ in 2012 when he gained the Travelers, starting the ultimate spherical tied for twentieth and 6 pictures out of the lead held by Brian Davis and Roland Thatcher.
“It’s only a actually enjoyable golf course, as a result of in case you hit good pictures you may give your self quite a lot of probabilities for birdies, however in case you’re just a bit bit off it kicks your butt,’’ Leishman stated. “You could make bogeys from nowhere it looks as if. I feel that’s the beauty of it.’’
You could make birdies from in every single place, too.
When Kevin Streelman gained the Travelers in 2014, he birdied the final seven holes within the ultimate spherical to do it.
Some purists demand longer, tougher golf programs as a result of they don’t like seeing 19-under par win, which was Dustin Johnson’s profitable rating final yr.
But TPC River Highlands, regardless of being simply 6,807 yards in size (about 1,000 yards shorter than Torrey Pines for final week’s U.S. Open and Kiawah Island for final month’s PGA Championship), is just not a pushover.
Brawny Bryson DeChambeau, for instance, didn’t eat it for breakfast, failing to make a Sunday cost (he shot 70). Phil Mickelson, who craves birdies like many people crave caffeine within the morning, completed a really modest 1-under for the week.
“I think it’s a great test of golf,” Justin Rose stated after taking pictures 63 on Friday and earlier than taking pictures 74-69 on the weekend.
Kevin Kisner, who shot 29 on the again 9 Sunday after taking pictures 40 on the again Saturday, described the course greatest when he stated it has “quite a lot of eye sweet.’’
Give me eye sweet any day over a bland bowl of broccoli.