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Top Golfers Return To Connecticut For PGA Tour's Travelers Championship

Five of the top 10 golfers in the world will tee off at the PGA Tour Travelers Championship event this weekend in Cromwell.

Rory McIlroy, the world’s seventh-ranked golfer, played at Cromwell’s TPC River Highlands for the first time a year ago.

“I had an injury,” McIlroy said. “I came back at the U.S. Open. But, even before that, I wanted to play a little bit and I added this tournament to the schedule.”

The course is only 6,800 yards, so it’s one of the shortest courses that’ll be played on tour this year. But McIlroy said it keeps golfers on their game, so that’s why they come back—even though it’s played right after the U.S. Open.

“Sometimes having a tournament right after a major doesn’t help, but having this tournament right after the tournament last week, I think it gets guys back into their normal routine,” McIlroy said.

Bubba Watson, the 20th best golfer in the world, was in the top 10 two years ago. He’s won two Masters Tournament titles and two Travelers Championships. He said he loves playing in Cromwell after the U.S. Open—so much so that he’s coming back next year even though he’ll have to get on a plane from California to do it.

“Next year is going to be a little different because it’s Pebble Beach,” Watson said. “It’s all the way across the far side of the country. But, I’m going to be here—I know that for a fact. I’ll go ahead and tell everybody: I’m signing up next year.”

Credit Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio
Connecticut Public Radio
Tournament director Nathan Grube has worked on this event in the state since 2005. He's been inspirational in getting golfers like McIlroy and Jordan Spieth to come to Connecticut.

Nathan Grube, the tournament’s director, said the key to making the event appealing to the pros is to find ways to make the next year’s event better even as this one unfolds.

“For the last 12 years, we’ve been just trying to improve things little-by-little. I look around right now and there’s a dozen things I want to do better—even in what I can see in eye shot: ‘I’d like to do that with that walking path or what if we did that for the fans here.”

Last year, the golfers voted the Travelers as their favorite tournament of 2017.

This year’s tournament in Cromwell officially tees off Thursday, June 21.

If you read any of Frankie Graziano’s previous biographies, they’d be all about his passion for sports. But times change – and he’s a family man now.
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