by Jeff Skinner
The Travelers Championship marked the third tournament I was able to attend during my “June of Golf’ and it was a good one.
On Wednesday I spent some time in the Media Center and got to ask a few questions of some of the players. Rickie Fowler said that he learned over the years that on days when the round isn’t going your way you just find a way to hang on and try to get what you can out of them. Hunter Mahan, who is lively and animated when he comes out from under those shades of his had an interesting take on the pressure of playing in the final group with Phil Mickelson on Sunday at Merion.
I mean, it was‑‑ each experience you go through, it gets a little easier. So the first Ryder Cup and that first kind of Masters you get into, that was pretty challenging. I knew how to handle it this time around, but there was a lot of‑‑ I mean, there was a lot of energy out there, you know, with Phil and everything, I mean, it was really Phil’s tournament.
It was kind of like when Stewart Cink won the British Open but he beat Tom Watson; it was Watson’s tournament, even though he didn’t win. It was kind of Phil’s tournament. I’ve played with Phil twice when he finished second, and you see how much it pains him to lose and how much he wants to win there and how much the fans‑‑ one of my friends said, it feels like Phil never plays away. He always plays at home because it’s just the fans are so for him. They are so‑‑ they want it for him so badly.
And then out there, I heard happy birthday probably 30, 40, 50 times; at the end of the day it was pretty annoying, but I’m sure he appreciated it and appreciated the well wishes and everything.
Yeah, it’s strange, I really felt like it was a home game for Phil, even though we are in Philadelphia and Phil doesn’t have any kind of connection there. It was really a fun day. It was pressure packed, but I don’t know, I felt pretty good all day.
I appreciate how he called it “Phil’s tournament” and acknowledges how every week seems like a home game for Phil.
Chris Stroud thought it may have been his tournament when he chipped in on the 72nd hole to tie for the lead and force a playoff with Ken Duke. Stroud jumped and fist pumped and played to the crowd. And when he came back out for the playoff he did it all over again on his ride back to the eighteenth tee, both times. And you could feel the crowd was pulling for the lively Texan.
But Ken Duke had something to say about that and his great approach left him with a two footer for the win. Duke’s win is a testament to his dedication and patience and he’s a worthy champion.
But one of the stars of the day wasn’t seen on CBS or interviewed by The Golf Channel, but she sure was cute. After the playoff Stroud spent a few minutes in the press tent and he had his lovely, three year old daughter Haley sitting on his lap the whole time. She’s a real cutey and stole the show from her dad.
So my tally for the week was 362 miles (2 trips to TPC River Highlands), 18 holes of golf (I squeezed it in on Thursday) some good BBQ in the media center and two really sore feet. Standing at the 18th for what seemed like forever while Stroud chipped in, Charley Hoffman sunk it from the bunker and then the playoff put too much strain on these old dogs.
The good news is week four starts today as I head down to Sebonack and the U.S. Women’s Open. It’s my first look at the Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak masterpiece. I’m planning on seeing the whole course. Maybe I should get some new shoes.