HARTFORD, Conn. – The Travelers Championship already has its best field since the insurance giant became title sponsor in 2007.
The tournament will also have its best Celebrity Pro-Am field at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell on June 19.
The 20 celebrity participants announced Wednesday include seven with University of Connecticut ties and Angie Watson, the wife of three-time defending champion Bubba Watson who played against the Huskies’ women’s basketball team while at the University of Georgia and will make her pro-am debut.
The UConn contingent includes Ray Allen, a 10-time NBA All-Star after being named an All-American at UConn who won NBA titles with the Boston Celtics (2008) and Miami Heat (2013) and remains the NBA career leader in three-pointers; Jim Calhoun, who was 625-243 and won three NCAA titles at UConn, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005 and the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and just completed his first season as head coach at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford; Chris Dailey, the associate head women’s basketball coach since 1987 who has won a record 11 national titles with head coach Geno Auriemma and was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame last year; Randy Edsall, who is about to start his 15th season in his second stint as head coach of the football team and led the Huskies to the 2012 Fiesta Bowl after coaching for five seasons in the NFL; Nancy Stevens, one of the all-time collegiate field hockey coaches with a 681-185-24 record who recently completed her 29th season at UConn, winning her 500th game, and has helped lead the program to national championships in 2013, 2014 and 2017; ESPN football analyst Dan Orlovsky, who spent 12 seasons in the NFL as a quarterback with the Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Baltimore Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is UConn’s career leader in passing yards and touchdowns; and Mike Cavanaugh, who has been men’s hockey coach since 2013 and ended last season with an upset victory over then No. 2-ranked Massachusetts at the XL Center in Hartford.
Other celebrities scheduled to play are Chris Berman, an ESPN broadcaster who has been named National Sportscaster of the Year six times while winning 10 Emmy Awards; Nick Bonino, an Avon native and a center for the Nashville Predators who attended Avon Old Farms and Boston University before entering the NHL in 2010 and also playing with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, winning two Stanley Cup titles; Brandel Chamblee, who played 14 seasons on the PGA Tour, winning the Greater Vancouver Open in 1998, before joining Golf Channel in 2004 and becoming the network’s lead analyst for its studio shows and on-site coverage during major Tour events; Dane DeHaan, an actor and model currently starring in the feature film “The Kid” who has had prominent roles in popular movies such as “Chronicle,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “Kill Your Darlings” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets;” Boomer Esiason, a quarterback for 14 years in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals who was a four-time Pro Bowler, was named NFL MVP in 1988 and currently hosts the radio show “Boomer & Gio” on WFAN in New York; Doug Flutie, who won the 1984 Heisman Trophy while a quarterback at Boston College and then spent 21 seasons as a professional football player, including 12 in the NFL with the Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots; Mike Gorman, an Emmy Award-winning commentator who has been the television broadcaster for the Boston Celtics for more than 30 years; Christopher Jackson, a singer and actor who currently stars in the CBS drama “Bull” and played George Washington in the original cast of “Hamilton,” for which he earned a Tony Award nomination, and has also won a Grammy Award and an Emmy Award for his singing and songwriting; George Lopez, a multitalented actor who has had success in film, television and stand-up comedy and is best known for his role in the show “George Lopez,” which ran on ABC for six seasons, as well as appearing in 21 movies such as “Valentine’s Day” and “Rio;” Bailey Mosier, a co-host on “Morning Drive” on the Golf Channel who serves as a reporter at select tournaments after playing on the women’s golf team at Old Dominion University; Mark Teixeira, who spent 14 seasons in Major League Baseball, hitting 409 home runs in a career with the Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, California Angels and New York Yankees and led the American League with 39 home runs in 2009, when the Yankees won the World Series; Tim Wakefield, a knuckleball pitcher who won 200 games in a 19-year Major League Baseball career that included 17 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, winning World Series titles in 2004 and 2007; and Angie Watson, who helped the University of Georgia women’s basketball team reach the Final Four in 1999, played professional basketball overseas and spent the 2001 season with the Charlotte Sting in the WNBA. In 2014, Angie joined her husband in forming the Bubba Watson Foundation to enhance their ability to help those in need, particularly children and those associated with the United States military.
“Our Celebrity Pro-Am gives fans a unique opportunity to see those from the sports and entertainment world tee it up with some of the best golfers in the world,” tournament director Nathan Grube said. “It’s always been a fun part of tournament week that the galleries enjoy seeing every year.”
Marquee player entries in the $7.2 million tournament include Bubba Watson, who is 18th in the World Golf Ranking and will seek to tie Hall of Famer Billy Casper for most tournament victories (four), and other top ranked players Brooks Koepka (No. 1), the reigning U.S. Open and PGA Championship titlist, Justin Thomas (No. 6), British Open champion Francesco Molinari (No. 7), Bryson DeChambeau (No. 8), Tony Finau (No. 13), Paul Casey (No. 14), Patrick Cantlay (No. 15), Jason Day (No. 16), Tommy Fleetwood (No. 17), Louis Oosthuizen (No. 20), Patrick Reed (No. 21), two-time winner Phil Mickelson (No. 23), 2012 champion Marc Leishman (No. 24), Kevin Kisner (No. 27) and Vermont native Keegan Bradley (No. 35). Watson will try to join Mickelson (2001-02) as the tournament’s only repeat champions June 20-23.
Officials also announced the 11th Women’s Day on June 20 is sold out. Featured attractions at a special networking breakfast will be “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan and Tony Award-winning actress Kelli O’Hara. Proceeds of the event benefit tournament charities, including The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, which was founded by late actor Paul Newman and serves children with serious illnesses. Benefits offered to women on Women’s Day include a golf clinic at the TPC River Highlands practice facility, a 10 percent discount on purchases in the official merchandise shop, preferred bleacher seating, exclusive tours of the Golf Channel’s on-site studio and the opportunity to attend a live broadcast of “Golf Central.”
“This year’s Women’s Day Breakfast promises to be another highly successful event,” Grube said. “Margaret brings a unique perspective and engaging stories, having reported on some of the nation’s biggest events over the past decade. And with Kelli’s extensive experience on and off Broadway, she is sure to entertain the crowd.”
Travelers is again the presenting sponsor of the breakfast, and Webster Bank will serve as the supporting sponsor for the second year. The Hartford Business Journal, Hartford HealthCare, Lux Bond & Green and Red Thread will return as event partners.
“We’ve been a proud sponsor of the Women’s Day Breakfast since its start 11 years ago,” said Mojgan Lefebvre, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology & Operations Officer at Travelers. “In that time, the breakfast has become a premier event during tournament week, raising a significant amount of money for charity through an inspirational program that reaches hundreds of women.”