HARTFORD, Conn. – For weeks, local golf enthusiasts have wondered if the field for the Travelers Championship next week is the best since the tournament began as the Insurance City Open in 1952.
Thursday, that idea was solidified when Phil Mickelson, a five-time major champion whose 44 PGA Tour victories include back-to-back wins at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, committed to play in this year’s tournament.
“Phil is one of the most popular and decorated players in golf history and having him in our field definitely adds a layer of excitement,” tournament chairman Nathan Grube said. “Everything that Phil has brought to the game is spectacular, from his dozens of tournament victories to his endless interactions with the fans. We’re getting an elite player with Phil’s commitment.”
The only bummer is the $7.4 million Travelers Championship on June 25-28 is the third of five PGA Tour tournaments after the restart of play last week are TV-only events because of the coronavirus pandemic, so fans will have to watch the star-studded field on CBS and The Golf Channel.
Mickelson, the tournament’s only repeat winner in 2001-02, ended a 16-year absence from Connecticut’s biggest sporting event in 2019 but missed the cut. He’ll have plenty of stellar competition next week as the top seven players and eight of the top nine in the Official World Golf Rankings are in the field: No. 1 Rory McIlroy, No. 2 Jon Rahm, No. 3 Justin Thomas, No. 4 Brooks Koepka, No. 5 Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Patrick Reed, No. 7 Patrick Cantlay and No. 9 Webb Simpson. Other marquee commitments have been No. 12 Bryson DeChambeau, No. 14 Justin Rose, No. 16 Tony Finau, No. 24 Paul Casey and defending champion Chez Reavie and past winners Jordan Spieth (2017), Marc Leishman (2012) and Bubba Watson (2010, 2015, 2018), who will try to tie Hall of Famer Billy Casper for most tournament wins (four).
Mickelson, who turned 50 on Tuesday, is ninth on the PGA Tour’s career wins list, with his first victory coming at the Northern Telecom Open in 1991 when he was still a student at Arizona State University and remains the last amateur to win a Tour event. His most recent title came in the 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and in between those wins, he won five major championships: the Masters in 2004, 2006 and 2010, the PGA Championship in 2005 and the Open Championship in 2013. He also has finished runner-up a record six times in the U.S. Open, the only major that has kept him from becoming the sixth person to earn a career Grand Slam of the four major championships.
Elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012, Mickelson has made 12 appearances on both the U.S. Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams, the most by an American player in either competition. He was a four-time, first-team All-American in college and became the only left-handed player to win the U.S. Amateur in 1990.
Mickelson was among 144 players to return to work last year in the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, where he missed the cut by two strokes. His previous competition in May was a charity event in which he and Tom Brady were edged by Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning 1 up and raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief.
“With the top seven players in the Official World Golf Ranking and eight of the top 10, it already feels like the best player field we’ve ever had, and now we’re adding to it with Phil Mickelson,” said Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Travelers. “This is great news for the Travelers Championship. We appreciate that he has fit Travelers into his schedule, and I know that millions of Phil’s fans will be rooting for him while watching from home.”
The playoff commitment deadline is 5 p.m. Friday. Television coverage begins next Thursday and Friday on Golf Channel, starting at 3 p.m., and the cable network and CBS will air the final two rounds.