Local PGA Pros To Tee It Up For Spot in Travelers Championship Field

Travelers Championship, TPC River Highlands. Credit: Travelers Championship

The PGA Tour’s “big boys” don’t start arriving in Connecticut for five weeks for the 12th edition of the Travelers Championship.

But the local Walter Mittys get a shot at a spot in the $7 million tournament at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell on Monday and Tuesday.

Fifty-one members of the Connecticut Section PGA will shoot for a chance to line up against many of the best players in the world in the Spring PGA Stroke Play Championship at Hop Meadow Country Club in Simsbury.

Those in the field who have already competed in the biggest sporting event in Connecticut are Kevin Giancola (Golf Quest-Southington), Fran Marrello (Canaan Country Club), Jack McConachie (North Ridge Golf Club-Southington), Kyle Bilodeau (Tumble Brook CC-Bloomfield), Bob Mucha (Edgewood GC-Southwick, Mass.), Section president Ian Marshall (Watertown GC) and Bill Downes (GreatHorse GC-Hampden, Mass.), who won the Spring Stroke Play last year to earn a spot in Cromwell for the second time.

Host pro Joe Cordani is also the field, which is scheduled to begin play at 9 a.m. There is no cut in the first major individual event of the Section season.

The Travelers Championship is June 21-24, and a loaded field already committed includes the past three major championship winners: defending Travelers champion Jordan Spieth (British Open), Justin Thomas (PGA Championship), who became No. 1 in the World Golf Rankings last week, and Patrick Reed (Masters).

Spieth won the Travelers last year with an historic 61-foot bunker shot on the first playoff hole to beat close friend Daniel Berger. It’s the only time in PGA Tour history that a player prevailed via a bunker shot in a playoff. The only players to win on the last hole of regulation are Bob Tway (1986 PGA Championship) and 1994 Travelers winner David Frost (1990 USF&G Classic), with the victim both times being World Golf Hall of Fame member and 1995 Travelers champion Greg Norman.

Other marquee names in the Travelers field include former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, two-time Travelers champion Bubba Watson, Paul Casey, major championship winners Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk, who shot a PGA Tour record 58 in the final round in 2016, Charley Hoffman, Bryson DeChambeau and Fairfield native J.J. Henry, who notched his first Tour victory in the 2005 Buick Championship in Cromwell.

For more information on the biggest sporting event in Connecticut, visit TravelersChampionship.com.

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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