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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. Bubba’s Bogeys Blow It

Bubba Watson did not pull away from the field at the Travelers Championship,  as I hopefully reported yesterday. Instead he fell to a round of even par 70,  after starting with three birdies on the front nine, and gave them up with three bogey’s on the inward nine to record an even par round, and stay at -10 under par for the championship.

Opportunity knocks

Graham DeLaet, Bubba Watson and Charlie Hoffman / Getty Images

While Bubba stood still, Graham DeLaet and Charlie Hoffman moved up. Graham with a -5 under par 65, and Charlie with his -4 under par 66, both of them caught Bubba at the top on -10 under par.

Bubba  carded three bogeys in his last six holes, while Graham had the low score of the day at -5 under par. Bubba was pretty philosophical about today’s round;

“I hit some shots today that were really good, quality shots. I got a couple bad breaks here and there, but that’s golf. At the end of the day I still have a chance on Sunday and that’s what we’re always looking for. I think we’ve never seen the golf course like this, as firm as it is and as firm as some of the greens are. It’s hard to get to certain points, so a lot of people probably played it safe.”

Graham has pledged to donate $1,000 for every birdie he makes this weekend and $2,500 for every eagle to help the relief efforts for the heavy rain and flooding in Alberta, Canada;

” It’s a pretty small part, what we’re doing, but anything helps, there’s a lot of help from everyone all across Canada. I did play well pretty much all day. I had a lot of good birdie chances on the front nine, just couldn’t really seem to find the hole. Julien my caddie, just told me to stay patient.”

 Charley, who lost his chance at winning last year’s Travelers Championship on the 71st hole, with a tee shot into the water, said;

” Obviously if I get on 17 tee in the lead, I’d be lying to say I’m not going to think about that tee shot. But I’m a much more mature, better player than I was a year ago and don’t feel uncomfortable on that tee shot. I got off to a pretty quick start and then birdied ten, thought I was going to get going again. And then a little three-putt bogey on twelve sort of slowed things down.”

Tied in fourth spot are Chris Stroud who had a third round -4 under par 66, and Nick O’Hern with his -2 under par 68. Both players are on -9 under par for the tournament.

There are seven players at a log jam in seventh place at -7 under par, they include the U.S. Open Champion, Justin Rose who carded a -2 under par 68 to add to his total.

This could be anybody’s title, how amazing would it be for Justin Rose to triumph again, just one week after his first Major win.

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.

 

USPGA Tour, Travelers Championship @ TPC River Highlands, Connecticut

                                             

Two emerge on busy Saturday

                               Roland Thatcher and Brian Davis /Rogash/Getty Images

Brian Davis shot 64 and Roland Thatcher 65 to get to -12 under par for the two rounds played at US PGA Tour Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut. These guys are two shots clear of John Rollins, James Driscoll and Stuart Appleby, who are all handily placed tied for second spot on -10 under par.

Roland was candid about his golf;

” I’m in good position through two rounds, and hopefully I can do something special here over the weekend. Unfortunately, I’m probably the least consistent player on this Tour, so whenever I go out and miss five, six cuts in a row, that doesn’t really surprise anybody, nor should it surprise anybody that occasionally I put together four rounds. So hopefully this is one of those weeks where I make a lot of money in a very short amount of time.”

Four of the last six winners of the Travelers Championship were first-time winners on the PGA Tour, and James Driscoll, who finished fifth here a year ago, has also yet to win a PGA Tour event. At aged eighteen, James became the youngest ever winner of the Massachusetts State Amateur, and now more than a decade later, he is still looking for his first Tour win. James is happy to be where he is, and thinks it would be great, being a native New Englander to win this tournament;

” It feels good. It’s kind of like last year. I’m in a similar position. I’ll probably be in one of the last few groups, so it’s an exciting place to be.  It would be great. It’s fun just to be there in contention and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get some friends and family out there to support me and hopefully I can play well for them.”

Stuart Appleby was also pleased to be playing some good golf;

” Conditions are easier in the morning,  bit of a breeze today. I’m not sure if they’re going to get breeze in the afternoon. You could see lower scores than yesterday’s afternoon.”

Stuart also spoke about the improvement in his golf game;

” It’s better. I mean I’m thinking better. I’m getting better. I mean it’s really a crumbling wreck, my game. I wasn’t hitting it any good and I wasn’t thinking any good and I was just really finding it very hard. All self-induced issues. I had a back injury that was affecting my swing, not hurting me, and that seemed to make it hard to get on top of that most of last year, or all of last year. Body and mind is a lot better, and if you get those two right, you play better golf. “

Charging along at -9 under par is two times Major winner Padraig Harrington, who had a second round of  -5 under par, 65, and is also very much in this championship.

Bubba Watson got his first career victory here in 2010, he is currently at -8 under par after a round of  65 today, Bubba has good and bad memories of this tournament;

“For me, my first win here, announcing that my dad was about to pass away of cancer, there’s up and down moments at this place. But they’ve always treated me well. I’m going to have to shoot a low number. It will be fun. They’re going to have to slow down for me to catch them. “

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