In Hartford, there are a few things that are just a way of life. Death, Insurance and Bubba Watson winning the Travelers Championship.
After putting together an impressive final round on Sunday, Bubba Watson found himself in the winner’s circle at TPC River Highlands just outside of Hartford, Connecticut for the third time in his career. For the second time, he bested Paul Casey en route to hoisting the trophy.
This year’s Travelers Championship boasted one of the best regular season, non-major fields we’ve seen in quite some time. If you’re expecting that to change in the coming years, don’t. The Travelers has made itself one of the most beloved events on the schedule — God knows Bubba Watson will come back to Cromwell until the day they tear this place down.
Bubba Watson may have won, but — as I mentioned — there were plenty of big names in the field who managed to finish somewhere between Bubba and Smylie Kaufman.
Here’s a look at those who will be looking down on TPC River Highlands from their NetJet, longing for next year’s edition of the Travelers — and those who were too busy drinking away their sorrows to care:
Bubba Watson — There’s not much left to say about Bubba Watson’s week at TPC River Highlands that hasn’t already been said. No player seems to do better at this even than Watson. Since picking up his first career win here in 2010, Watson has picked up three wins and a runner-up here. He’s always in contention, always making headlines and always a fantasy favorite. Also of note: the win at the Travelers gives Bubba three for the season, making him the only player on Tour to do that thus far.
Stewart Cink — Perhaps the biggest surprise of the wee was Stewart Cink. Known best for besting Tom Watson at the Open Championship in 2009, the 45-year-old Cink damn-near snuck out the win on the strength of a final-round 62. In the end, his 14-under total for the week was good enough for a four-way tie for second. Cink, who had previously won the Travelers in 1997 and 2008, was far and away the best long-shot pick for the week.
Paul Casey — You’ve got to feel for Paul Casey. In the wake his second runner-up to Bubba Watson at the Travelers, I’m hearing rumblings about him being a “choker,” etc. It’s disappointing to hear — but is it true? Casey, who came from behind to win the Valspar earlier this year, has only two career wins on the PGA Tour. And disappointing Sundays have been far more frequent than bright red numbers. Still, he’s too good to be ignored in formats where top-5’s are big.
Jordan Spieth — A year after winning the Travelers in dramatic fashion, Jordan Spieth looked poised to do it again in 2018 after the first round 63. Unfortunately a bad triple bogey on Friday derailed his efforts, and a 2nd round 73 effectively kept him from contention the rest of the week. Spieth ended up finishing T-42 — certainly not what Spieth or his fantasy owners were looking for.
Rory McIlroy — Like Jordan Spieth, it appeared after Thursday that Rory McIlroy would be a force to be reckoned with all week at TPC River Highlands. Unfortunately — but not to the same extent at Spieth — McIlroy only mustered a 69 on Friday. Now, his chances were never derailed, but when guys around you are firing 66’s, 64’s, etc., to your 69’s, it gets difficult. McIlroy’s 11-under total for the week was good enough for a T-12 finish.
Webb Simpson — After picking up the long-awaited win at the PLAYERS Championship, Webb Simpson has found himself in a small slide. No one on the planet can blame him. After falling to the depths that Simpson did following the anchored putting ban, it was tremendous to see him return to the winner’s circle. Simpson fans shouldn’t worry too much — but to see him struggle the way he did at a birdie paradise like TPC River Highlands was disappointing.
Smylie Kaufman — It’s getting to the point where we have to seriously worry about Smylie Kaufman. Once one of the “top prospects” so-to-speak and one of the SB2K17 boys — now, he’s mired in a slump that is bordering in on “David Duval-esque” and it might be time to wonder whether or not he’ll end up back near the top of a leader board in the future. I’d like to think so, but the fact that he hasn’t really put anything together all year is disheartening.