HARTFORD, Conn – During the Travelers Championship in June, tournament director Nathan Grube said he thought there was “a good chance” that Rory McIlroy would return in 2020.
McIlroy had been at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell the previous two years, but scheduling conflicts caused him to bypass Connecticut’s biggest sporting event in 2019.
But Grube proved to be a soothsayer on Wednesday as McIlroy became possibly the earliest player to commit to a PGA Tour tournament other than a defending champion when he said he indeed would be back 10 months before the 2020 Travelers Championship on June 25-28. McIlroy gave the good news to Grube and Andy Bessette, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at Travelers, before winning the season-ending Tour Championship and second FedExCup title on Sunday.
The personable, straight-talking Northern Irishman notched a four-stroke victory in the Tour Championship to win the record $15 million first prize in the FedExCup race. He joined Tiger Woods as the only players to win the FedExCup twice, moving to second in the Official World Golf Ranking behind Brooks Koepka, who was the first player to commit to the 2019 Travelers Championship in January.
“I really missed playing at TPC River Highlands this year, so I’m looking forward to coming back in 2020,” McIlroy said in a tournament release. “The Travelers Championship is one of the best events on the PGA Tour with a tremendous atmosphere, great fans, an awesome practice facility and now a new clubhouse that I can’t wait to see.”
McIlroy, 30, is coming off one of his best PGA Tour seasons with 14 Top-10 finishes in 19 starts. He also won The Players Championship and RBC Canadian Open, matching Koepka for most victories on the PGA Tour this year. McIlroy now has 17 PGA Tour titles, which includes four major championships: the 2011 U.S. Open, 2014 Open Championship and 2012 and 2014 PGA Championship. He’ll again try to become only the sixth player to win the career Grand Slam in the Masters in April.
McIlroy was the PGA Tour Player of the Year in 2012 and 2014 and has a legitimate shot this year, though Koepka is considered a narrow favorite to be chosen by the players after edging McIlroy for PGA of America Player of the Year via a points system. McIlroy won his first FedExCup title in 2016 and the Vardon Trophy for lowest stroke average three times, including this year (69.06).
“Rory had an outstanding season this year, and his victory last weekend adds to his legacy on the PGA Tour,” Grube said. “He is one of those guys who is very aware of his schedule multiple years in advance, and it’s amazing how much he plays attention to it. We appreciate his early commitment as we continue our focus on making next year’s Travelers Championship our best tournament yet.”
McIlroy tied for 17th in his Travelers Championship debut in 2017 and then shared 12th in 2018. He turned pro in 2007, has eight wins on the European Tour, has been a member of five European Ryder Cup teams and has been ranked No. 1 in the world for 95 weeks.
“We’re planning on having a fantastic Travelers Championship in 2020 with another world-class field, and Rory’s commitment is just the beginning,” Bessette said. “We’ve gotten to know Rory over the years and developed a really great relationship with him. He’s supported our tournament in the past and said he wanted to come back. I can’t wait to see him play next year.”
Chez Reavie will defend in the 2020 Travelers Championship after rallying for his second PGA Tour victory in June, his first in 11 years after overcoming a series of injuries. He beat the best field since Travelers became title sponsor in 2007, and the early commitment of McIlroy starts the tournament on its way to offering similar quality.