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Travelers Championship. Duke Wins In Play-Off Duel

Ken Duke won the Travelers Championship in a play-off duel with Chris Stroud at TPC River Highlands.

Late bloomer

Victorious Ken Duke / Getty Images

Ken had a last round of  -4 under par 66, for his tournament total of -12 under par. That score was equalled by Chris Stroud, who had a last round of -3 under par for his total of -12 under par.

Ken has played in 187 PGA Tour events without a win, but he never gave up hope, and was rewarded today for his diligence, recording a birdie on the second play-off hole to claim victory. He admitted it has been a long journey;

” Yeah, it’s been a long time,  I’ve been on the Canadian Tour, the mini tours, Asian Tour, South American Tour, all of them, Web.com, and it’s just great to be a part of this big family on the PGA TOUR. You gotta believe in yourself in everything you do. That’s why those guys at the top are winning week in, week out because they believe they can do it. It’s kind of one of those things once you finally do it, it might come easier the next time. That’s kind of the way I feel.”

Chris spoke about the difficulty of working out the club required for the correct yardage;

” I had three shots from 94 yards on 18, the exact same yardage, and I could not figure out a way to stop that ball.  “Regulation, luckily, I chipped it in.”

In Third place was Graham DeLaet, one shot adrift at -11 under par.

Graham pledged to donate $1000 for every birdie he made to the relief fund for the people of Alberta, where widespread flooding is blamed for at least three deaths and forced thousands to evacuate. PGA TOUR Canada, a Bank and a Canadian businessman all agreed to match the donation. Graham finished with three birdies on Sunday and nine in total for the weekend;

” Hopefully it puts a small dent in what they need, but our hearts are still with them.”

Bubba Watson blew his chances away with a triple bogey six on the par three 16th hole. A very costly error, as he was leading at the time, he spoke about the shot afterwards;

“The wind affected the first shot, and the wind didn’t affect the next shot. I flew it 3 feet past the hole, which you can’t do right now because the greens are so firm.”

Bubba finished alone in fourth spot at -10 under par, how he missed those three dropped shots on sixteen.

Travelers Championship. Brilliant Bubba Means Business

Brilliant Bubba Watson shot a second round at  the Travelers Championship of -3 under par 67, to take control of the top of the leaderboard at TPC River Highlands on -10 under par.

Course of comfort

Bubba Watson / Getty Images

Bubba said he likes the course and that he always plays well here;

“I love this place, I always play well here. The tee shots set up well for me, I like the way they look. There’s about two tee shots on the whole course that are really tough for me. Other than that, the course sets up well for me. It’s funny, last year if I don’t hit the hook shot and I don’t win, I don’t have a win all year, even though it was my best year on TOUR. I’m looking to be more consistent. I had a lot more top 25′s over the last few years, a lot less cuts.”

Tied in second place at -8 under par are, Patrick Reed and Padraig Harrington, both players have had two rounds of -4 under par 66. The  windy conditions kept many of those who began their rounds in the afternoon from equaling the scores of their early rising opponents, but Padraig was one of those who did manage it;

” It did get windy out there, it was a challenge but there were still opportunities to make birdies. I didn’t hit it perfect in any shape or form on the first two days, so I’m not exactly brimming with confidence.”

There are four players occupying fourth spot at -7 under par, they are; Tag Ridings, Nick O’Hern, Tommy Gainey and Hunter Mahan, who is recovering from his massive effort at Merion in the U.S. Open.

U.S. Open Champion Justin Rose admitted to feeling tired, he made bogey on River Highlands’ two easiest holes, Nos. 2 and 15;

“I haven’t hit the ball quite as solidly as I would have liked to. I just think I need to maybe go and take care of my body a little bit, some stretching, some physio, maybe a workout, just work out a few kinks. I feel a little bit stiff and tight in the back and the hips.”

It is still a neatly compact leaderboard, but if Bubba makes a move on Saturday he could start the final round with a comfortable lead.

Travelers Championship. Cheerful Charlie Shoots 61.

Cheerful Charlie Hoffman opened the Travelers Championship with a first round -9 under par 61, to lead by one shot from Hunter Mahan.

Travelers, Round 1

Charley Hoffman / Getty Images

Charley had thoughts of a 59, but was remembering last year when he was in contention here and finished double-bogey,bogey;

“It sort of crossed my mind, but not for long, I learned that 16, 17, 18 aren’t an easy test. Believe it or not, I was thinking about last year going down 16, 17, 18. If I could have just gotten those balls in play, I would have been defending champion here. But this year, I got off to a good start and was obviously a little more focused on those last two holes. Hopefully I’m there again this year. It’s nice to come back after that finish last year.”

Hunter Mahan is in second place, fresh from his great effort in the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. Hunter was close behind Charley, at -8 under par 62.

Hunter said he likes this TPC River Highlands course, and he was also thinking of 59;

” There are a lot of courses I like, but I haven’t had the success I’ve had here. I think this is the most comfortable course on TOUR for me. I feel like I have a good sense of these greens, I can read them really well.  When you have confidence in what you see, it makes your stroke a lot easier. When I birdied the par‑5  sixth hole, I thought about the chance to birdie the last three to maybe get to 60 or 59. Just had a misread on 8 and 7.  But I was definitely thinking about it for sure.”

Bubba Watson is in third spot with his -7 under par 63 opening round, he too is coming off a tough week at Merion. Bubba scored an Eagle today, driving the green to about six feet on the par four 15th hole.

Justin Rose, the U.S. Open Champion is here, and he opened with a -3 under par round of 67;

” The announcement on the first tee today, being announced as the 2013 U.S. Open champion, I couldn’t help but smile before I hit my first tee shot. That’s an achievement that I’ve been dreaming about. I had a sluggish four or five holes where I struggled, but I stayed patient, I’ve stayed sort of committed to the same things that worked so well for me last week. That was my goal today, really. When you play a tournament like this, it’s about keeping steady pace. If you put four rounds in the mid‑60s together, you’re going to be very, very close.”

This going to be a really low scoring tournament and will be good fun to watch, a welcome release for the players after last weeks grueling encounter.

 

Travellers Championship @ TPC River Highlands, 1st round

   

Davis Mathis leads the Travellers Championship @ TPC River Highlands · Cromwell, Connecticut after the conclusion of the first round. David fired in an opening round of 64 to finish at -6 under par on this par 70 lay out. Just one shot off the lead are three players tied for second place, they are; Nathan Green, Will Claxton and Fredrik Jacobson, who all had rounds of 65.

David said of his round;

” I played really solid all day through that stretch of holes from hole eighteen all the way around to my front. I was hitting a lot of great shots and I guess it felt like a lull compared to how I started. But I birdied the tenth, which was my first, and then to make a hole in one on number eleven, and made a long, long putt on twelve just really got me jump started for the day. And good place to start from for sure.  Last year at Memphis I was leading after the first round, and I think I ended up finishing fifteenth or something maybe, give or take some spots. I can’t really remember. So yeah, I’ve been in that spot before, but you know, there’s so much golf left, you’re just thankful to play a solid round whether you’re in first or whether you’re in fifth. It’s all about trying to build on it and being there toward the end and giving yourself an opportunity to win. So you know, it’s a good start and just want to build on that.”

Nathan Green really enjoyed his day;

” It was great out there. The greens are perfect, and it really wasn’t too hot. We got a little bit of wind on the back nine. But perfect conditions. I had a full head of hair the last time I had a top ten or even top twenty. It’s been so long. It was tough putting even two good rounds together, let alone four. So it’s been tough. It’s been a bit of a grind. But there have been some good signs there this year. But today was nice. Didn’t really make too many mistakes and made a couple of the ten, fifteen footers that I hadn’t been making. And then to get out there and shoot five under, it’s a course I like playing.”

Will Claxton got off to a flier;

” Started out birdie, eagle. So you can’t ask for much better than that. You know, it’s been a couple of weeks since I played and it’s been a little longer than that since I really got it going and played well. So to start out birdie, eagle, that’s huge.I obviously had the driver going. I drove the ball well today, so it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be.  It’s perfect. The greens are in perfect shape. You can definitely score out there if you hit some good shots, but you gotta hit the fairways and you gotta hit some good shots.”

Fredrik Jacobson also had a good time out there;

” I enjoyed it out there. It was hot out there. It was one of those days you’re going to have to focus hard to stay in it in a day like this, and I was fortunate enough to play really well and get off to a good start.  I think, you know, I struck it really solid all day and really only had one hiccup on sixteen where I landed the ball a foot from the hole, and ended up with a five to double there, but the rest was no mistakes. “

Two of the Major Champions who are in the field this week, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson are just two shots off the lead, with the other Major Champion, Keegan Bradley another two shots adrift. Michael Thompson, who contested so well at last weeks Major, fell to an opening effort of +8 over par, and will struggle to make the cut this week.

Webb said about playing alongside the other Major Champions this year;

” I’m definitely pleased. I knew it was going to be a tough round to come out and really focus and put last week behind me, but we got off to a good start as a group, two of us birdied one, and it was just fun playing with those guys, and we just kind of fed off each other and just played a good solid round.”

Bubba said;

” I’m very happy. You know, shooting four under. I didn’t make any putts the last couple weeks that I missed cuts. Made some putts today, made some key putts today to keep the momentum going. Had a couple loose swings, but all in all it was a good day.”

Enjoying each other's company

Webb & Bubba /Rogash/Getty Images

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