Golf Talk Live - Chris DiMarco Transcript Segment 3

By Golf Channel NewsroomJanuary 1, 2001, 5:00 pm
RICH LERNER
WELL THE MASTERS BEING THE FIRST MAJOR OF THE YEAR IS ALWAYS VERY INTENSE FOR THE COMPETITORS. YOU WANT TO DO YOUR VERY BEST. KIND OF INTERESTING THOUGH. YOU MIGHT NOT THINK THIS WOULD BE THE CASE. THE MASTERS IS A REALLY GOOD FAMILY WEEK ISN'T IT? TELL US WHY?

CHRIS DIMARCO
YOU KNOW IT WAS, IT WAS REALLY COOL. I HAD BOTH MY BROTHERS, MITCH AND RICK THERE, MY WIFE OF COURSE, AMY, MY TWO CHILDREN, MY PARENTS, MY BROTHER IN LAW CAME UP AND MY MOTHER IN LAW, SO WE HAD A FULL HOUSE OF PEOPLE AND IT WAS JUST REALLY NEAT. I MEAN IT WAS, IT WAS FUN

JUST TO HAVE EVERYBODY THERE. WE PLAYED CARDS AND WE DID, YOU KNOW, PLAY STATION AND WE JUST DID A LOT OF FAMILY STUFF AND A LOT OF FAMILY TIMES SO EVERYBODY GOT TO INTERACT WITH EACH OTHER WHICH WAS REALLY GOOD.

RICH LERNER
AND YOU HAD YOUR LITTLE BOY ON THE BAG AT THE PAR 3.

CHRIS DIMARCO
I DID. THAT WAS SO COOL. I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, THAT WAS ONE OF THE PROUDEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE WAS SEEING HIM ON THAT BAG JUST

RICH LERNER
AND THERE'S

CHRIS DIMARCO
THERE HE IS JUST

RICH LERNER
20:CHRISTIAN, AND WE JUST SAW YOUR POP

CHRIS DIMARCO
YUP. HE IS, HE WAS, GOSH, LOOK AT HIM THERE, HE WAS

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHING)

CHRIS DIMARCO
THAT'S SUCH A PROUD MOMENT THERE.

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHING) LOOK AT THE UNIFORM RIGHT THERE.

CHRIS DIMARCO
HE HAD, THE, THE POCKETS WERE TOUCHING HIS HEELS IT WAS SO CUTE. YOU KNOW HE JUST HAD SUCH A GOOD TIME. HE LOVES, LOVES BEING OUT ON GOLF, ANY WITH, ANYTHING WITH GOLF HE LOVES IT AND IT'S JUST SO MUCH FUN.

RICH LERNER
BEAUTIFUL SHOT RIGHT THERE.
I DON'T KNOW HOW STRONGLY YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT GUY RIGHT THERE.

CHRIS DIMARCO
YEAH HE'S BEEN A BIG INFLUENCE ON MY LIFE TOO SO IT, IT, MY DAD'S A VERY IMPORTANT PART.

RICH LERNER
WELL, I KNOW HE WAS BUSTING AT THE SEEMS LAST WEEK WITH PRIDE. LET'S GO BACK TO LONG ISLAND. GIVE US A THUMB NAIL SKETCH OF THE DIMARCO FAMILY. WHAT DID YOUR DAD DO AND MOM AND HOW MANY BROTHERS AND SISTERS?

CHRIS DIMARCO
WELL MY DAD WORKED FOR A COMPANY CALLED C.F.S. CONTINENTAL FOODS AND LUCKILY HE GOT TRANSFERRED FROM NEW YORK AND MOVED, GOT US BACK TO ORLANDO WHICH WAS GREAT BACK IN 1975.

RICH LERNER
IN WHAT END OF THE BUSINESS WAS HE?

CHRIS DIMARCO
HE WAS A, A, A PRESIDENT OF, OF CFS,

A BRANCH HERE IN TOWN

RICH LERNER
OKAY

CHRIS DIMARCO
WHICH GOT TAKEN OVER BY CISCO FOODS AND NOW HE, HE JUST RECENTLY RETIRED IN DECEMBER, 42 YEARS I BELIEVE.

RICH LERNER
MMM

CHRIS DIMARCO
SAME COMPANY, WITH THE SAME JOB, SO I MEAN IT WAS

RICH LERNER
HECK OF A RUN

CHRIS DIMARCO
HECK OF A RUN

RICH LERNER
OKAY. SO HE GETS TRANSFERRED, YOU GUYS COME DOWN HERE TO CENTRAL FLORIDA. YOU'RE INTO FOOTBALL.

CHRIS DIMARCO
I, IT WAS FUNNY BECAUSE MY BROTHER, MITCH, WENT TO LAKE BRENTLEY HIGH SCHOOL AS A 9TH GRADER, MY BROTHER RICK WENT TO TIEG MIDDLE SCHOOL AND I WENT TO SABLE POINT ELEMENTARY

SCHOOL AND YEAH I PLAYED FOOTBALL FOR TEN YEARS. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. I USED TO LOVE TO HIT, HIT PEOPLE, DEFENSE WAS MY, MY SPECIALTY.

RICH LERNER
WELL WHAT, WHAT DID YOU PLAY?

CHRIS DIMARCO
ACTUALLY I PLAYED QUARTER BACK AND MIDDLE LINE BACKER, BECAUSE I TOLD THEM I WOULDN'T PLAY QUARTER BACK UNLESS THEY LET ME PLAY MIDDLE LINE BACKER BECAUSE I JUST LOVED PLAYING DEFENSE TOO MUCH.

RICH LERNER
YEAH, AND, YOU HAD TO GET OUT OF FOOTBALL, WHY?

CHRIS DIMARCO
UM MY 9TH GRADE YEAR OF HIGH SCHOOL I WAS LIKE, 5 FOOT, FIVE FOOT TWO

RICH LERNER
REALLY?

CHRIS DIMARCO
I WAS VERY SHORT AND KIDS IN HIGH SCHOOL WERE VERY BIG AND I WAS, IT WAS, IT WAS DEFINITELY A GOOD CAREER CHOICE IN, IN, ON MY PART.

RICH LERNER
YOU FOUND THE RIGHT SPORT. WHAT KIND OF INFLUENCE DID YOUR BROTHERS HAVE?

CHRIS DIMARCO
UM THEY MADE ME TOUGH, I CAN PROMISE YOU THAT. I USED TO GET, I USED TO GET BEAT UP PRETTY GOOD AS A KID BUT THEY MADE ME TOUGH. IT WAS FUN. NEVER GAVE THEM THE SATISFACTION OF CRYING.

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHS)
WHO WAS THE, WHO WAS THE BEST ATHLETE OF THE THREE AT THE TIME?

CHRIS DIMARCO
YOU KNOW, I THINK ALL THREE OF US WERE REALLY GOOD ATHLETES. EVERYTHING WE DID WE WERE ALL PRETTY GOOD AT EVERYTHING AND THERE WAS SO MUCH SIBLING RIVALRY AND THERE STILL IS TODAY. I MEAN GOSH WE PLAYED WATER BASKET BALL IN MY POOL YESTERDAY AND I GOT SCARS TO PROVE IT, SO I MEAN IT WAS

RICH LERNER
WHAT DO THE BROTHERS DO NOW?

CHRIS DIMARCO
MY BROTHER MITCH IS ACTUALLY AN EXECUTIVE FOR SPICE WORLD HERE IN TOWN.

RICH LERNER
MHMM

CHRIS DIMARCO
20:AND MY BROTHER RICK IS A BRANCH MANAGER FOR FIRST UNION.

RICH LERNER
OKAY. WHEN DID YOU FIRST PICK UP A GOLF CLUB?

CHRIS DIMARCO
THE FIRST TIME I PICKED IT UP WAS NOT LONG AFTER WE MOVED FROM NEW YORK. I THINK AGE 7.

RICH LERNER
MHMM. AND WHAT KIND OF HANDICAP WAS DAD PLAYING TO?

CHRIS DIMARCO
DAD WAS PROBABLY, I DON'T KNOW, A 12 OR 13, I THINK, YOU KNOW, HE WASN'T PLAYING THAT MUCH EITHER UNTIL HE MOVED HERE EITHER.

RICH LERNER
OKAY, SO THERE WAS NO, NOBODY IN THE FAMILY NECESSARILY GIFTED

CHRIS DIMARCO
MMM MMM

RICH LERNER
20:WHO PASSED IT ALONG TO YOU. SO YOU PICK IT UP AT A RELATIVELY EARLY AGE. WHEN DID YOU KIND OF GET HOOKED ON THE GAME?

CHRIS DIMARCO
YOU KNOW, IT'S FUNNY. THEY, THEY KEEP SAYING, I DON'T KNOW, I DON'T REMEMBER, BUT THEY SAY THAT THE FIRST TIME I EVER PLAYED 9 HOLES I SHOT 48 SO IT WAS VERY NATURAL TO ME.

I THINK MY SWING IS ALMOST THE SAME AS IT WAS WHEN I FIRST STARTED PLAYING AND, YOU KNOW, AND THAT'S WHAT I HAVE. I HAVE A REALLY

NATURAL SWING. VERY, A LOT OF FEEL. I DON'T, I DON'T, THAT'S WHAT, I DON'T HAVE A TEACHER WHICH MIGHT NOT BE THAT SMART, I MEAN I NEED TO FIND SOMEBODY TO HELP ME OUT WITH THE

BASICS, THE FUNDAMENTALS BUT I PLAY BY SO MUCH FEEL THAT IT'S HARD TO TRY TO GET A CLUB IN A CERTAIN POSITION ALL THE TIME AND I LIKE TO KIND OF PLAY MYSELF OUT OF MY QUIRKS.

RICH LERNER
WE NEED TO HEAR THE STORY ABOUT YOUR FIRST HOLE IN ONE.

CHRIS DIMARCO
OH YEAH THIS WAS A GOOD STORY.

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHS)

CHRIS DIMARCO
I WAS ACTUALLY, I WAS TEN YEARS OLD, I WAS PLAYING WITH A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE, CHRIS, AND WE HAD TWO, WE WERE PLAYING WITH TWO PRIESTS, SO I MADE SURE THEY SIGNED THE CARD, AND THEY, THEY, THEY

THERE WAS NO LYING

RICH LERNER
NO DISPUTING IT

CHRIS DIMARCO
THERE WAS, THERE WAS, THEY COULD, NOBODY COULD DISPUTE ME AT ALL BECAUSE I HAD TWO PRIESTS AND THEY SIGNED IT.

RICH LERNER
WHEN DID YOU FIRST, SAY BREAK 70, WE'LL SAY, BECAUSE IF YOU'RE GOING TO END UP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, YOU NEED TO BE SHOOTING IN THE 60'S, WINNING JUNIOR GOLF TOURNAMENTS.

CHRIS DIMARCO
UM, YOU KNOW I WOULD PROBABLY SAY I WAS AROUND 13.

RICH LERNER
MHMM

CHRIS DIMARCO
SOMEWHERE, 13 OR 14. PROBABLY WHEN I GAVE UP FOOTBALL AND STARTED PLAYING GOLF YEAR ROUND IS WHEN THE NOTICEABLE BECAME A LOT BETTER.

RICH LERNER
MHMM

(WRITTEN TEXT)
1990 NCAA ALL-AMERICAN AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

CHRIS DIMARCO
BECAUSE I GAVE IT THE FULL YEAR INSTEAD OF THE 6 MONTHS. IT WAS JUST, IT, IT JUST GOT PROGRESSIVELY BETTER AND BETTER AND BETTER AND BETTER EVERY YEAR.

RICH LERNER
OKAY. SO YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO GO PLAY IN COLLEGE. GET A SCHOLARSHIP. WAS FLORIDA YOUR FIRST CHOICE?

CHRIS DIMARCO
YEAH, MY, MY BROTHER MITCH WENT THERE WHEN I WAS TEN, SO I WAS A GATOR FROM TEN AND THEN MY BROTHER RICK WENT THERE FROM TWO YEARS AFTER MY OTHER BROTHER AND THEN, SO HE WAS, THE YEAR HE GOT OUT I STARTED, SO BASICALLY I WAS A GATOR FOR 14 YEARS

RICH LERNER
MMM

CHRIS DIMARCO
GOING UP TO GAMES AND STUFF, SO I, I'VE BEEN A TRUE GATOR FOR, BOY, 22 YEARS NOW.

RICH LERNER
WHAT'S IT LIKE WHEN YOU DRIVE, OR WHEN YOU USED TO DRIVE THAT GATOR VAN WITH, WHICH YOU DROVE THE COUNTRY IN WHEN YOU WERE PLAYING THEN THE NIKE TOUR? WHAT WAS IT LIKE WHEN YOU DROVE IN TO, LET'S SAY, KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE.

CHRIS DIMARCO
LUCKILY, KNOXVILLE WAS ON THE WAY OUTSKIRTS WHERE WE PLAYED IN THAT TOURNAMENT.

RICH LERNER
(LAUGHS)

CHRIS DIMARCO
I THOUGHT FOR SURE SOMETHING WAS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE VAN THERE. IT'S FUNNY THAT THE ONLY THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE VAN HAPPENED IN OMAHA WHERE, THE YEAR AFTER NEBRASKA JUST DRILLED US 62 TO 28 IN, IN THE FIESTA BOWL. WE, SOMEBODY SPIT

ON MY CAR OR SOMETHING. I CAN'T REMEMBER WHAT HAPPENED BUT IT WAS, YOU KNOW, IT WAS FUN DRIVING THAT, IT WAS A LOT OF FUN DRIVING THAT VAN ESPECIALLY, I HAD IT IN '96 WHEN WE WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WHICH WAS '97.

RICH LERNER
BEAT FLORIDA STATE

CHRIS DIMARCO
WE BEAT FLORIDA STATE.

RICH LERNER
WAS, WAS THERE A GREATER DAY, A GREATER DAY IN YOUR LIFE AS A SPORTS FAN?

CHRIS DIMARCO
THAT WAS, THAT WAS PROBABLY THE GREATEST DAY BECAUSE I WAS, I WAS WITH BOTH MY BROTHERS. WE WEREN'T IN A SPORTS BAR, WE WERE JUST, THE THREE OF US WATCHING THAT GAME. TRUE GATOR FANS, JUST GOING CRAZY. IT WAS, IT WAS SO MUCH FUN.

RICH LERNER
YEAH. YOU EVER PLAY GOLF WITH STEVE SPURRY (?) ? THE COACH OF FLORIDA. HE'S A VERY GOOD PLAYER.

CHRIS DIMARCO
I'VE NEVER PLAYED WITH HIM, BUT I GOT, I GOT A VERY NICE THING. HE, ONE OF THE BOOSTERS GUYS AT FLORIDA TOLD ME THAT THEY TURNED THE GAME FILM OFF ON SUNDAY TO WATCH ME COME HOME AND WIN THE LAST HOUR OF THE TELECAST.

RICH LERNER
MMM

CHRIS DIMARCO
AND THEN I GOT A NICE LETTER FROM THREE OR FOUR OF THE COACHES DOWN THERE TELLING ME HOW GREAT, GREAT THEY WERE AND HAPPY AND PROUD THEY WERE AS GATORS FOR ME TO WIN. IT WAS PRETTY COOL.

RICH LERNER
THAT'S FANTASTIC. WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A SHORT BREAK AND MUCH OF CHRIS' SUCCESS OF LATE IS DUE TO HIS NOW FAMOUS PUTTING GRIP, AND WHEN

WE COME BACK WE WILL SHOW YOU HOW HE GETS IT DONE, ALSO TELL YOU JUST HOW BOB BARKER AND THE PRICE IS RIGHT MAY HAVE SAVED THIS YOUNG MAN'S CAREER (LAUGHING). STAY WITH US.

CHRIS DIMARCO
OH GOODNESS.

(MUSIC)

(BREAK)
 
NEXT SEGMENT
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Lopez fires flawless 63 for lead in Arkansas

By Associated PressJune 23, 2018, 12:41 am

ROGERS, Ark. – Since its first year on the LPGA Tour in 2007, the crowds at the NW Arkansas Championship have belonged to Stacy Lewis.

Another former University of Arkansas star staked her claim as the hometown favorite Friday when Gaby Lopez shot a career-low 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead at Pinnacle Country Club.

Like Lewis, the two-time winner of the tournament, Lopez starred as a three-time All-American for the Razorbacks before joining the LPGA Tour in 2016. Despite flashes of potential, Lopez had yet to join Lewis among the ranks of the world's best - missing the cut in her last two tournaments and entering this week ranked 136th in the world.

For a day, at least, the Mexican standout felt right at home atop the leaderboard in her adopted home state.

''I feel like home,'' Lopez said. ''I feel so, so comfortable out here, because I feel that everyone and every single person out here is just rooting for us.''


Full-field scores from the Walmart Arkansas Championship


Moriya Jutanugarn was a stroke back along with Minjee Lee, Catriona Matthew, Nasa Hataoka, Lizette Salas, Mirim Lee and Aditi Ashok. Six others finished at 6 under on a day when only 26 of the 144 players finished over par, thanks to some mid-week rain that softened the greens and calm skies throughout the day.

Jutanugarn finished second at the tournament last year and is trying to win for the second time on the LPGA Tour this year. Her younger sister, Ariya, is already a two-time winner this year and shot an opening-round 66.

Lewis, the former world No. 1 who won the event in 2007 in 2014, finished with a 66. She's expecting her first child in early November

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu, coming off a victory Sunday in Michigan, shot a 67.

Friday was Lopez's long-awaited day to standout, though, much to the delight of the pro-Arkansas crowd.

After missing the cut her last two times out, Lopez took some time off and returned home to Mexico City to rest her mind and work on her game. The work paid off with two straight birdies to open her round and a 6-under 30 on her front nine.

Lopez needed only 25 putts and finished two shots off the course record of 61, and she overcame a poor drive on the par-5 18th to finish with a par and keep her place at the top of the leaderboard. Her previous low score was a 64 last year, and she matched her career best by finishing at 8 under.

''(Rest) is a key that no one really truly understands until you're out here,'' Lopez said. ''... Sometimes resting is actually the part you've got to work on.''

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Harman rides hot putter to Travelers lead

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:28 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – There are plenty of big names gathered for the Travelers Championship, and through two rounds they’re all chasing Brian Harman.

Harman opened with a 6-under 64, then carded a 66 during Friday’s morning wave to become the only player to finish the first two rounds in double digits under par. The southpaw is currently riding a hot putter, leading the field in strokes gained: putting while rolling in 12 birdies and an eagle through his first 36 holes.

“Putted great today,” said Harman, who ranks 22nd on Tour this season in putting. “Got out of position a couple of times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few birdies.”


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Harman, 31, has won twice on the PGA Tour, most recently at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. While he doesn’t have a win this year, he started his season in the fall by reeling off five straight finishes of T-8 or better to quickly install himself as one of the leaders in the season-long points race.

Now topping a leaderboard that includes the likes of Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy, he realizes that he’ll have his work cut out for him if he’s going to leave Connecticut with trophy No. 3.

“The putter has been really good so far, but I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” Harman said. “I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”

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10-second rule costs Zach Johnson a stroke

By Will GrayJune 23, 2018, 12:06 am

CROMWELL, Conn. – Zach Johnson heads into the weekend one shot back at the Travelers Championship, but he was a matter of seconds away from being tied for the lead.

Johnson had an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 3 at TPC River Highlands, his 12th hole of the day, but left the ball hanging on the lip. As Johnson walked up to tap the ball in, it oscillated on the edge and eventually fell in without being hit.

Was it a birdie, or a par?

According to the Rules of Golf, and much to Johnson’s chagrin, the answer was a par. Players are afforded “reasonable” time to walk to the hole, and after that they are allowed to wait for 10 seconds to see if the ball drops of its own accord. After that, it either becomes holed by a player’s stroke, or falls in and leads to a one-shot penalty, resulting in the same score as if the player had hit it.

According to Mark Russell, PGA Tour vice president of rules and competitions, Johnson’s wait time until the ball fell in was between 16 and 18 seconds.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Once he putts the ball, he’s got a reasonable amount of time to reach the hole,” Russell said. “Then once he reaches the hole, he’s got 10 seconds. After 10 seconds, the ball is deemed to be at rest.”

Johnson tried to emphasize the fact that the ball was oscillating as he stood over it, and even asked rules officials if marking his ball on the edge of the hole would have yielded a “bonus 10 seconds.” But after signing for a 2-under 68 that brought him within a shot of leader Brian Harman, the veteran took the ruling in stride.

“The 10-second rule has always been there. Vague to some degree,” Johnson said. “The bottom line is I went to tap it in after 10 seconds and the ball was moving. At that point, even if the ball is moving, it’s deemed to be at rest because it’s on the lip. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just the way it is.”

While Johnson brushed off any thoughts of the golf gods conspiring against him on the lip, he was beaming with pride about an unconventional par he made on No. 17 en route to a bogey-free round. Johnson sailed his tee shot well right into the water, but after consulting his options he decided to drop on the far side of the hazard near the 16th tee box.

His subsequent approach from 234 yards rolled to within 8 feet, and he calmly drained the putt for an unexpected save.

“I got a great lie. Just opened up a 4-hybrid, and it started over the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said. “That’s as good of an up-and-down as I’ve witnessed, or performed.”

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Travelers becoming marquee event for star players

By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 11:29 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Get lost in the throngs following the defending champ, or caught up amongst the crowds chasing the back-to-back U.S. Open winner, and it’s easy to forget where this tournament was a little more than a decade ago.

The Travelers Championship was without a sponsor, without a worthwhile field, without a consistent date and on the verge of being jettisoned to the PGA Tour Champions schedule. The glory days of the old Greater Hartford Open had come and gone, and the PGA Tour’s ever-increasing machine appeared poised to leave little old Cromwell in its wake.

The civic pride is booming in this neck of the woods. Main Street is lined with one small business after the next, and this time of year there are signs and posters popping up on every corner congratulating a member of the most recent graduating class at Cromwell High School, which sits less than two miles from the first tee at TPC River Highlands.

Having made it through a harrowing time in the event’s history, the local residents now have plenty of reason to take pride.

The Tour’s best have found this little New England hamlet, where tournament officials roll out the red carpet in every direction. They embrace the opportunity to decompress after the mind-numbing gauntlet the USGA set out for them last week, and they relish a return to a course where well-struck shots, more often than not, lead to birdies.


Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Ten years ago, this tournament was also held the week after the U.S. Open. Stewart Cink won, and for his efforts he received a paltry 36 world ranking points. But thanks to a recent influx of star-power, this week’s winner will pocket 58 points – the same amount Rory McIlroy won at Bay Hill, and two more than Justin Rose got at Colonial. Now at the halfway point, the leaderboard backs up the hefty allocation.

While Brian Harman leads at 10 under, the chase pack is strong enough to strike fear in the heart of even the most seasoned veteran: McIlroy, Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson, they of the combined eight major titles, all sit within three shots of the lead. Former world No. 1 Jason Day is one shot further back, and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas will start the third round inside the top 20.

Paul Casey and Bryson DeChambeau, both likely participants at the Ryder Cup this fall, are right there as well at 8 under. Casey lost a playoff here to Watson in 2015 and has come back every year since, witnessing first-hand the tournament’s growth in scope.

“It speaks volumes for what Travelers have done and how they treat everybody, and the work that Andy Bessette and his team put in to fly around the country and speak highly of this event,” Casey said. “And do things which matter, to continue to improve the event, not just for players but for spectators.”

Part of the increased field strength can be attributed to the Tour’s recent rule change, requiring players who play fewer than 25 events in a season to add a new event they haven’t played in the last four years. Another portion can be attributed to the short commute from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands, a three-hour drive and even shorter across the Long Island Sound – an added bonus the event will lose two of the next three years with West Coast U.S. Opens.

But there’s no denying the widespread appeal of an event named the Tour’s tournament of the year, players’ choice and most fan-friendly in 2017. While Spieth’s return to defend his title was assumed, both Day and McIlroy are back for another crack this year after liking what they saw.

“Anyone that I talked to could only say good things about the tournament about the golf course, how the guys are treated here, how the fans come out, and how the community always gets behind this event,” McIlroy said. “Obviously I witnessed that for the first time last year, and I really enjoyed it.”

After starting the week with all four reigning major champs and five of the top 10 players in the latest world rankings, only Masters champ Patrick Reed got sent packing following rounds of 72-67. The remaining top-flight contingent will all hit the ground running in search of more low scores Saturday, with Spieth (-4) still retaining a glimmer of hope to keep his title defense chances alive, perhaps with a 63 like he fired in the opening round.

The Tour’s schedule represents a zero-sum game. Outside of the majors and WGCs that essentially become must-play events for the game’s best, the rest of the legs of the weekly circus become victim of a 12-month version of tug-of-war. Some players like to play in the spring; others load up in the fall. Many play the week before majors, while a select group block off the week after for some R&R far away from a golf course.

But in an environment where one tournament’s ebbs can create flows for another, the Travelers has continued a steady climb up the Tour’s hierarchy. Once in jeopardy of relegation, it has found its footing and appears in the process of turning several of the Tour’s one-name stars into regular participants.

Rory. Jordan. Bubba. JT.

It’s been a long battle for tournament officials, but the proof is in the pudding. And this weekend, the reward for the people of Cromwell – population 14,000 – looks to be a star-studded show.

“All the events are incredible,” Thomas said. “But this is kind of one of those underrated ones that I think until people come and play, do they realize how great it is.”