2020 Travelers Championship: Top stars highlight featured groups

Chase Koepka (right) and World No. 3 Brooks Koepka feature 15 of the top 20 players in the world who will tee it up Thursday June 25 in the first round of the TV-only Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.

HARTFORD, Conn. – It sure would be great to be able to watch these featured pairings in the first two rounds of the Travelers Championship on Thursday and Friday.

But instead of walking the fairways at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, fans and most of the media will have to watch the Golf Channel because the biggest sporting event in Connecticut is the third of five TV-only events since the PGA Tour resumed play after shutting down on March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the third consecutive week, the top-five players in the Official World Golf Ranking will be among the 12 players in the featured groupings. Webb Simpson, winner of the RBC Heritage on Sunday, tied his career-best position in the rankings at No. 5 and moved to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings. Rory McIlroy remained No. 1, followed by Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Simpson, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed. Patrick Cantlay,

The field includes the top seven ranked players, nine of the top 10 and 15 of the top 20, and that doesn’t include World Golf Hall of Fame members Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III and Vijay Singh and past champions such as Kevin Streelman, Stewart Cink, Bubba Watson, who will be trying to tie Hall of Famer Billy Casper for most tournament wins (four) and Jordan Spieth, who notched the most spectacular victory ever when he holed a 61-foot bunker shot on the first playoff hole to defeat Daniel Berger, winner of the first “restart” event, the Charles Schwab Challenge when he parred the first playoff hole to beat Collin Morikawa.

All of the groupings and starting times for the first two rounds will be released at approximately noon ET on Tuesday. To watch the featured groupings on Thursday and Friday, fans in the United States can tune into the Golf Channel (3-6 p.m. ET), and PGA Tour LIVE, the PGA Tour’s Over-The-Top subscription service can be viewed via subscription on NBC Sports Gold (www.nbcsports.com/pgatour) and Amazon Prime Video Channels (amazon.com/video/pgatourlive). Audio coverage is also available on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio (Sirius 208, XM 92), and streams free via PGATOUR.COM (pgatour.com/liveaudio) as well as the TOUR’s official iPhone, iPad and Android apps.

The Travelers Championship is Connecticut’s largest sporting event typically attracting over 250,000 spectators throughout the week, but there will be zero fans and limited media allowed onsite for this year’s event, another ripple effect of coronvirus.

The featured pairings are:

Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson

DeChambeau, who leads the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, has recorded a top-10 in each of his last five starts, including a tie for eighth in the RBC Heritage
McIlroy has two wins when playing the first two rounds of an event with Mickelson (2011 U.S. Open, 2019 THE PLAYERS Championship)
Mickelson, a 44-time PGA TOUR winner who is the only back-to-back winner of the Travelers Championship (2001, 2002)

Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas

Koepka was the biggest mover in the FedExCup standings following the RBC Heritage, jumping 56 spots from 204th to No. 148
Schauffele has two runner-up finishes this season, with both coming in playoffs (World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, Sentry Tournament of Champions)
No. 2 in the FedExCup standings and No. 3 in the world rankings, Thomas tied for third in the 2016 Travelers Championship, his best result in six starts at the event

Jon Rahm, Chez Reavie, Webb Simpson

Rahm has four top-10s in seven starts this season, highlighted by a runner-up in the Farmers Insurance Open
Reavie earned his second PGA Tour title in the 2019 Travelers Championship 3,983 days after winning his first (2008 RBC Canadian Open), the 11th-longest span between first and second Tour wins since 1900
Simpson moved to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings with his win at the RBC Heritage, holding the top spot for the fourth week in his career and first since the 2013-14 season

Dustin Johnson, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth

Johnson carded four scores in the 60s and tied for 17th in the RBC Heritage, doing so in a PGA Tour event for the first time since the 2019 WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Morikawa has made the cut in all 22 of his starts as a professional on the PGA Tour, the second-longest streak to start a career in the last 30 years (longest: 25/Tiger Woods)
Spieth’s 10th PGA Tour victory came in the 2017 Travelers Championship after he holed a 61-foot bunker shot to defeat Daniel Berger in a playoff

The final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday will be televised on Golf Channel (1-3 p.m.) and CBS (3-6 p.m.).


Korn Ferry Tour members David Pastore of Stamford and Chase Koepka of West Palm Beach, Fla., each parred the first playoff hole at Ellington Ridge Country to earn the final two spots in the tournament. Pastore and Koepka each shot 5-under-par 67 and finished tied with Max Theodorakis of Danbury, Billy Tom Sargent of Georgetown, Ky., and Kurt Kitayama of Las Vegas. Theodorakis, Sargent and Kitayama were eliminated when they bogeyed.

Koepka, who has played on the Challenge Tour, is the younger brother of Brooks Koepka, and the two teamed to tie for fifth in the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2017. It will be the third start of the season for Chase, who received sponsor’s exemptions for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas (tie for 67th) and the CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES in South Korea (T46) during the wrap-around portion of the season. Brooks, meanwhile, will enter the Travelers Championship after finishing seventh Sunday. It was the best finish of the season for the four-time major champion.

Sixty-seven players competed in the Open qualifying, including 2013 Travelers Championship winner Ken Duke, who shot 3-under 33 on his outgoing nine but tired in the 90-plus degree heat to shoot 39 on his back nine.


Worked as sports writer for The Hartford Courant for 38 years before retiring in 2008. His major beats at the paper were golf, the Hartford Whalers, University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball, Yale football, United States and World Figure Skating Championships and ski columnist. He has covered every PGA Tour stop in Connecticut since 1971, along with 30 Masters, 25 U.S. Opens, four PGA Championships, 12 Deutsche Bank Championships, 15 Westchester (N.Y.) Classics and four Ryder Cups. He has won several Golf Writers Association of America writing awards, including a first place for a feature on John Daly, and was elected to the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 2009. He also worked for the Connecticut Whale hockey team for two years when they were renamed by former Hartford Whalers managing general partner Howard Baldwin, who had become the marketing director of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the top affiliate of the New York Rangers.

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