Travelers Championship adds three former U.S. Open winners

Brooks Koepka, defending U.S. Open champion, ranked No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking, has committed to play the Travelers Championship at TPC Cromwell June 21 - 24

HARTFORD, Conn. – The best Travelers Championship field since the insurance magnate became title sponsor in 2007 just got better Monday with the addition of three former U.S. Open champions.

Brooks Koepka, who begins defense of his U.S. Open title Thursday at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y., Webb Simpson and Graeme McDowell committed to the $7 million tournament June 21-24 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. It will be the ninth Travelers start for Simpson, who won the 2012 Open, third for Koepka and first for McDowell (2010).

“With five of the Top 10 players in the world now committed to the Travelers Championship, the stage is being set for a great tournament,” tournament director Nathan Grube said. “We’re excited to have Brooks and Webb return to TPC River Highlands and to welcome Graeme. You can feel the excitement building for our tournament and adding this group of major champions certainly adds to it.”

Koepka, 28, from West Palm Beach, Fla., is No. 9 in Official World Golf Ranking. He shot 16-under-par 268 for a four-stroke victory in the 2017 U.S. Open, his second PGA Tour title. He has two runner-up finishes this season in the HSBC Champions and the Fort Worth Invitational. He tied for ninth at the 2016 Travelers Championship and shared 27th in 2014.

Simpson captured his fifth Tour title last month in The Players Championship, considered by many to be “the fifth major.” Simpson dominated the event, building a seven-stroke lead after three rounds and cruised to a four-shot victory. It was his first win since the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in 2014. Previously, Simpson notched victories at the Wyndham Championship and Deutsche Bank Championship in 2011, and at the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. He has made the cut in all eight starts at TPC River Highlands and is currently No. 21 in the rankings.

McDowell won the 2010 Open at Pebble Beach by a stroke for his first PGA Tour victory and major championship. Since then, he’s added two titles in the 2013 RBC Heritage and 2016 OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He has nine victories on the European Tour and has represented Team Europe in the Ryder Cup four times, in 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. He earned the clinching point for Europe in the 2010 Ryder Cup when the matches were held in Wales.

Koepka joins four other players ranked in the Top 10 who have committed to the tournament: defending champion Jordan Spieth (No. 4), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Rory McIlroy (No. 6) and Jason Day (No. 8). Other commitments include Masters champion Patrick Reed, two-time Travelers winner Bubba Watson, major championship titlists Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk, Bryson DeChambeau, a two-time winner in the last 10 months, Paul Casey and Charley Hoffman.

Other past champions in the 156-man field are Russell Knox, Kevin Streelman, Ken Duke, Mark Leischman, Freddie Jacobson, Stewart Cink, Hunter Mahan and Fairfield native J.J. Henry, the only Connecticut player to win the biggest sporting event in the state.

The Travelers Championship was named 2017 “Tournament of the Year” by the PGA Tour while raising a record amount ($1.7 million) since Travelers became title sponsor. The event supports the Tour’s Tradition of Giving Back by donating 100 percent of net proceeds to charity, with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford is the major beneficiary.

Travelers, a leading provider of property and casualty insurance for home, auto and business, is the Official Property Casualty Insurance Provider of the PGA Tour. The company has been doing business in the Hartford community for more than 160 years and has been a corporate sponsor of this event each year since its inception as the Insurance City Open in 1952.

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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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