GolfChannel.com Senior Writer Jason Sobel is in Cromwell, Connecticut this week for the Travelers Championship. He was on the range yesterday when U.S. Open Champion Webb Simpson arrived and Sobel said that many may wonder why Simpson is playing this week right after winning his first Major. One of the reasons is that the Travelers Championship gave Simpson a sponsor’s exemption soon after he turned pro and another reason is the congratulations and love that he received from his fellow PGA TOUR players.
PGA TOUR players are able to hit into a “green” that is shaped like the Travelers red umbrella that is 86 yards from a tee and is called the 15 ½ hole. The umbrella is the middle of a lake that borders holes 15, 16, and 17 at TPC River Highlands and the players try to be the one to hit closest to the hole. The player who wins gets a $10,000 donation to charity in their name. Ricky Barnes won the first prize with a shot to 2 feet, 3 inches and Barnes will be making a $10,000 donation to his Ricky Barnes Foundation. Sobel even tried to take a shot at the umbrella with one of Scott Stallings’ clubs and he shanked it into the water.
In his second visit to Wednesday’s Morning Drive, Sobel began by saying that a number of New England-based celebrities will be playing in the Pro-Am this afternoon including former New England Patriots QB Doug Flutie and ESPN Host Chris Berman. Although he is not a New England native, Bill Murray is playing in the Pro-Am as well.
Patrick Cantlay turned professional this week shortly after finishing his sophomore year at UCLA and he told Sobel that the time just felt right to make this transition in his life. Cantlay shot 60 during the 2011 Travelers Championship so this week was the perfect place to make his professional debut. Cantlay will be playing in the AT&T National and the Greenbrier Classic over the next two weeks.
The Travelers Championship is working hard to get fans involved in this event in many ways including offering concerts this week by Michael Bolton, Javier Colon from NBC’s The Voice, and KC and the Sunshine Band. The tournament is hoping that people will come to the tournament with their families to enjoy the atmosphere as well as the golf.
Sobel thinks that Ryo Ishikawa has all of the talent in the world but that he is still trying his way on the PGA TOUR. Ishikawa is playing a lot more on the PGA TOUR but Sobel wonders if Ishikawa needs to dial it back a little bit and play fewer events. Also, Ishikawa is doing something that is a bit of a throwback by hiring local caddies each week on the PGA TOUR. He feels that hiring local caddies will help to give him a clearer perspective on the golf course every week.