Travelers Championship 2016
Round 4 - Russell Knox wins after Jim Furyk 58
August 7, 2016
Russell Knox nicknamed himself ''The Beast'' after playing two good rounds at the Travelers Championship.
He doubled down on that Sunday after sinking a 12-foot putt on the final hole to save par and beat hometown favorite Jerry Kelly by a stroke, hours after Jim Furyk shot the first 58 in PGA Tour history.
''I felt like the Incredible Hulk when it went in,'' Knox said. ''I could have ripped my shirt off.''
Knox closed with a 2-under 68 for a 14-under 266 total at TPC River Highlands. The 31-year-old Scot won for the second time on the tour, following his breakthrough victory in China in November in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.
Kelly, the 49-year-old former University of Hartford player, finished with a 64.
Furyk tied for fifth at 11 under. He opened with rounds of 73, 66 and 72.
Knox opened with consecutive 67s and had a 64 on Saturday. He took the lead with birdies at 13 and 14. He bogeyed the par-3 16th, and missed a chance to seal it on the par-3 17th when his 20-foot birdie putt stopped an inch right of the hole.
The Scot hit his tee shot on the par-4 18th right and into the crowd, and his second shot into a green-side bunker below the hole. He pitched out short of the hole, setting up a putt that went straight into the hole. He didn't tear his shirt off, but did send his hat flying in celebration.
''Everybody dreams of making a putt on the last hole to win a tournament,'' he said. ''I just kept telling myself, this is your chance to make a putt to have a great celebration and hear the roars. I'm glad it went in.''
Justin Thomas was almost an afterthought despite shooting a 62 and stringing together five straight birdies to close out the front nine. He finished with nine birdies on the day and at 12 under for the tournament, tied with Patrick Rodgers for third place. Rodgers shot a 68.
Furyk, already one of six PGA Tour players to shoot 59, took advantage of soft, clean greens during the morning after Saturday afternoon rains.
The 46-year-old American bounced in an eagle from 135 yards on his third hole, ran off seven straight birdies around the turn and picked up his final birdie on the 16th hole with a putt from just inside 24 feet.
He rolled in a short par putt on the final hole, thrust his arms in the air and waved his cap to salute thousands of fans who had rushed to the amphitheater around the 18th green to catch a stunning slice of history.
''No one else can say they've done that out here on the PGA Tour,'' he said. ''It's really special.
It was tougher for the leaders in the afternoon.
Daniel Berger, who shot a 62 on Saturday, began the day at 15 under with a three-stroke lead. But he struggled, making four consecutive bogeys to start his back nine. He finished with a 74 to tie with Furyk, Robert Garrigus and Tyrone Van Aswegen at 11 under.
Kelly began the day at 7 under. He shot 32 on the front nine, then went to 5 under for the day when his second shot on the 13th hole found the cup for an eagle from 113 yards. Headed to the PGA Tour Champions in November, he acknowledged the fans were chanting ''Jerry! Jerry!'' by pounding his heart with his fist as he walked up the 18th fairway.
''The love that they showed me this week, that's about the best of any year,'' he said about the fans. ''But, this is about the best I've played of any year too.''
Kelly won the last of his three PGA Tour titles in 2009.
Knox made back-to-back birdie putts inside 7 feet after great approach shots on 13 and 14. After a par on 15, he just missed the water by a few inches with his tee shot on 16. He bounced his next shot over the hole and had to settle for a bogey, before surviving the final two holes.
Irish Olympian Padraig Harrington shot a 75, finished at 1 under. He's 131st in the FedEx Cup standings, putting him in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. He won't have a chance to earn points next week in Rio.
Patrick Reed had the best tournament of the three members of the U.S. Olympic team, shooting a 66 on Sunday to finish at 9 under. Matt Kuchar finished with a 65 and was 8 under, and defending champion Bubba Watson followed at 7 under after a 68.
''It was one of those weeks where you could easily see playing great next week or the week after,'' Watson said, before getting on a plane for Rio de Janeiro. ''Next week might help me get even further in the right direction or it could happen next week.''
Round 3 - Daniel Berger vaults ahead with a 62
August 7, 2016
Daniel Berger, last season's rookie of the year on the PGA Tour, missed three cuts in January and February and began hearing the whispers.
''Everyone was starting to say sophomore slump and that kind of got me upset a little bit,'' he said. ''Not upset, but kind of like, 'Come on, let's get going here.'''
Berger earned his first PGA Tour win two months ago in Memphis, and will be going for a second on Sunday. He shot an 8-under par 62 on Saturday to take a three-stroke lead into the final round of the Travelers Championship.
The 23-year-old Floridian made nine birdies, including seven on his final 10 holes, to finish at 15-under 195 after 54 holes.
Berger, who is still recovering from a left shoulder injury that forced him to miss several tournaments including the British Open, had just one bogey and was two strokes off the course record, following up rounds of 66 and 67 that had him tied for the lead coming into the day.
''I've shot better than 62, but I guess it doesn't matter unless it's on the PGA Tour,'' he said. ''It was just a great day.''
Russell Knox shot a 64 and Russell Henley and Tyrone Van Aswegen each shot 65 to tie for second place at 12-under par. Patrick Rodgers shot a 66 and was five strokes off the pace.
Berger, who is coming off a shoulder injury, is looking for his fifth top-10 finish since April, a string highlighted by his win at the St. Jude Classic.
Berger said he first tweaked his left shoulder in Memphis, then strained it at the U.S. Open. The injury forced him to withdraw after hitting his opening tee shot at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and he didn't return until last week at the PGA Championship.
He said it expects the shoulder to be sore tonight, but it has not been bothering him on the golf course.
''It feels great this week and if I do the right thing then hopefully it's gone forever.''
Berger said besides the win, he's hoping for very personal reasons to secure a spot on the Ryder Cup team this summer. His father, Jay Berger, played tennis for the U.S. Davis Cup team.
''I think it would be pretty cool to have a father and son play Davis Cut and Ryder Cup,'' he said.
The golfers went out early in trios Saturday off the first and 10th tees to avoid thunderstorms predicted for the area.
Knox set the pace, opening his round with three consecutive birdies. He putted the ball just seven times over his first six holes.
He also is looking for his second PGA Tour win, after a victory last November at the World Championships in Shanghai.
''I always tell myself, don't be scared to play well,'' he said. ''You've got to go for it.''
Berger is not the only player coming off an injury.
Brooks Koepka, playing with a brace on his right ankle, shot a 30 on his back nine to finish with a 64 and go 9-under par for the tournament, tied for sixth place with Paul Casey.
Koepka tore a ligament earlier this summer and, like Berger, missed he British Open. He said he decided to play the tournament rather than rest because, like Berger, he wants to get enough points to play in the Ryder Cup.
''The better you play the better you feel,'' he said. ''Today is the best it's felt in a long time.''
Koepka spent the day sparring with playing partner Daniel Summerhays, who also had four birdies on the back nine, before hitting a tree on his drive at the par-4 18th. He ended up saving a bogey with a 44-foot uphill putt and goes into Sunday at 8-under par, tied for eighth place.
''To see that go in, that was definitely a sigh of relief,'' he said. ''A good putt can forgive a lot of weaknesses and sins that you've committed in one hole.''
U.S. Olympians Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed each shot 68 and are 5-under par, 10 strokes back. Fellow Olympian Matt Kuchar shot a 71 and is at 3-under par.
Watson has insisted his focus this week is on Connecticut, but acknowledged that he wore his opening ceremony outfit on Friday night, texting a photo to teammate Rickie Fowler, who took parade in the parade of athletes.
''He texted me back his outfit,'' Watson said. ''I said I was there in spirit, so I had to wear my outfit, too.''
The shot of the day came from Ernie Els, who aced the par-3 16th hole from 176 yards. It was the 13th hole-in-one of his career.
Round 2 - Four way tie at halfway
August 6, 2016
Daniel Berger says he's healthy again and hoping to regain the form that helped him to his first PGA Tour title two months ago.
Last year's rookie of the year followed his first-round 66 with a 67 on Friday for a share of the lead in the Travelers Championship.
He matched 2012 Travelers champion Marc Leishman, Russell Henley and Tyrone Van Aswegen at 7-under 133. Leishman shot 68, Henley shot 65, and Van Aswegen 66.
Berger strained his shoulder at the U.S. Open after winning in Memphis at the St. Jude Classic, his fourth top-10 finish in seven starts. The injury forced him to withdraw after hitting his opening tee shot at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and he didn't return until last week at the PGA Championship.
''I definitely played better than I thought I would,'' he said. ''This is my seventh round in six weeks and for a professional golfer that's not a lot.''
Four players, including 49-year-old University of Hartford graduate Jerry Kelly, were a shot behind. Kelly had a 70 after sharing the first-round lead with a 64.
Blayne Barber had the best round of the day with a 64 of his own to top the seven players two strokes back.
''The wind got up a little bit today, so you had to be playing good golf to shoot a really good number,'' Leishman said.
U.S. Olympians Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar remained in contention. Kuchar shot a 67 to move to reach 4 under. Reed, who turned 26 on Friday, also shot a 67 and was tied with Watson at 3 under. Watson, the defending champion, had a 70.
Seventy-three players made the cut by shooting even par or better.
''If you're close to the lead, you're close to missing the cut,'' said Paul Casey, who lost last year in a playoff and was among those tied for ninth place at 5 under.
Henley, who is playing this tournament for the first time, joined the leaders by sinking a 20-foot birdie on his final hole, the par-4 ninth.
''It was just a little bit tricky,'' he said. ''I think with no wind on this course we would have seen double digits (under par) by now.''
Van Aswegen put up an early 66 and led most of the day as the wind picked up and the greens dried out.
The 34-year-old, who is looking for his first PGA Tour win, followed up on his 67 Thursday with a second straight bogey-free round. His four birdies included a 45-foot putt on the par-4 10th.
''You make a birdie on 10, you're gaining a stroke on the field there,'' he said. ''I'm hitting the ball quite well and putting really well.''
Kelly had five birdies and five bogeys. He won the last of his titles in 2009.
''I'm tired,'' he said. ''I'm going to watch a movie and see if I can rest a little bit and see if the old bones will work for two more days.''
Reed, one of six Olympians playing in the tournament, turned 26 on Friday. He was presented with a cupcake on the first tee, and blew out the birthday candle on top with a practice swing. Watson then led the crowd at several holes in rousing renditions of ''Happy Birthday.''
''Half the people were chanting 'Happy Birthday' and the other half chanting for all of us, 'USA,' so it was cool,'' he said.
Andrew Loupe, among the leaders after the first round, held a brief one-stroke lead Friday before on his fourth hole of the day, the par-4 14th. He hit his drive out of bounds left, overcompensated right on his next drive and finished with a seven on the hole and missed the cut after shooting a 76.
The most unusual play of the day came from Vaughn Taylor, who put his tee shot on the par-4 17th hole in the course's signature lake. After conferring with a rules official, he was allowed to take a drop from the opposite shore near the 16th tee, because it was no closer to the hole. That gave him a better angle at the green. After a long cart ride around the lake, he was able to make bogey, despite clipping a corporate tent with his approach shot.
Matt Jones shot a second consecutive 69, despite suffering from what officials described as nausea and dehydration during his round. He took a 15 minute break at the turn and received three Intravenous bags of fluid.
After two days of sun and temperatures in the mid-80s, the forecast for Saturday afternoon include the possibility of severe thunderstorms. Because of that, tournament officials will have the players going out early in threesomes off both the first and 10th tees.
Round 1 - Jerry Kelly turns back the clock
August 5, 2016
Father Time isn't preventing Jerry Kelly from turning back the clock at the Travelers Championship.
American Kelly, who is four months away from qualifying for the senior golf tour, is making a run at his first PGA Tour win in seven years.
The 49-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin, was turning heads Thursday by shooting a six-under 64 to share the first-round lead with fellow Americans Andrew Loupe and Vaughn Taylor.
"I hit a lot of good shots," said Kelly, who has missed the cut in four of his last five tournaments. "I also putted well. I hit a couple good shots that would roll off the greens, and then I would have very tough up and downs.
"I use the putter a lot from off the green, which I'm fairly good at. It's tough up and downs on some of these when you short side yourself."
Kelly has three career PGA Tour wins, the most recent coming in the 2009 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Ben Martin, Australia's Marc Leishman and Spain's Jon Rahm are tied for fourth at 65 at the River Highlands course in Cromwell, Connecticut while Daniel Berger and Mexico's Carlos Ortiz share seventh place at 66.
Fifteen players, including defending champion Bubba Watson and Fiji's Vijay Singh, are tied for ninth at 67.
Entering the tournament, Kelly was struggling with his game. He missed the cut at the Byron Nelson, Dean and Deluca Invitational, St. Jude Classic and Barbasol Championship before tying for 26th in the Canadian Open.
He is looking ahead to a full-time PGA Champions senior schedule but hopes to still make some noise on the regular circuit.
"I can't say goodbye. There are four or five tournaments that have a pull on me," he said. "I will definitely stick around and play those."
Kelly is not going to the Rio Olympics once the tournament is over, but three other Americans in the field are, including world number six Watson who is the highest-ranked player taking part this week. Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar are the other US Olympians.
Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen, Germany's Alex Cejka and Ireland's Padraig Harrington are also Rio bound.