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Birdies come in bunches at Travelers Championship

Birdies come in bunches at Travelers Championship

CROMWELL, Conn. — Coming off a week when birdies were tougher to find than cheerful Dallas Mavericks fans on Monday night, you would think the best golfers on the PGA Tour would want nothing more than a week off. But even after Rory McIlroy withdrew from this week’s Travelers Championship on Monday, the field at TPC River Highlands is stacked.

This week’s Travelers Championship is the final Signature Event of the season, and the only two players currently ranked in the top 60 on the Official World Golf Ranking who are not here are McIlroy and the man who defeated him in Pinehurst last week, Bryson DeChambeau.

Money talks, and the winner of the PGA Tour’s only Northeast stop will get a $3.6 million check, but this event also earns glowing reviews from players for what it does outside the ropes, too.

On Tuesday, Xander Schauffele, who won this event in 2022 and the PGA Championship last month, said, “Coming to Travelers is awesome. They do such an amazing job for us, but also caddies and our support team.”

Schauffele, who has also earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic team, noted, “If you look at the range, it’s got the little umbrellas, we have a coffee stand, a lounging area, there’s the green trucks out there with the pizza. So, it’s such a relaxing week coming after the U.S. Open and I think all of us really appreciate that.”

And then there’s the course, which at 6,835-yard is one of the shortest on the PGA Tour. The par-70 layout has earned a reputation as a venue where seriously low scores are shot every year. Consider this: Last season on the PGA Tour, there were 216 rounds of 63 or better, and 19 of them (about 9 percent) were shot here. Last year, en route to winning by three shots, Keegan Bradley won with rounds of 62, 63, 64 and 68.

Some minor changes have been made to the course since Bradley won last year, but he does not anticipate they will significantly elevate scores, and to him, that’s good.

“So often now in golf and in tournaments, they’re making courses so difficult, and every week doesn’t have to be like that,” he said on Wednesday. “That’s what makes Travelers so fun to come play and so fun to watch, I think. Certainly, it’s going to be tougher than last year, I would say, with the rough being up and some of the changes, but I think it’s great to come here and know when you tee it up on the first hole you got to make birdies.”

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