Lowry and Power part of top-class field in Connecticut for Travelers Championship

Kevin Kent

Shane Lowry (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Kevin Kent

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With barely time to catch breath after the weekend’s drama in Pinehurst, the PGA Tour’s summer rolls on with the Travelers Championship – a Signature Event – kicking off this week at TPC River Highlands.

The star-studded field (with one notable absentee) takes to the Cromwell Connecticut course this week with a purse of $20 Million to play for. The 71-strong field includes Shane Lowry and Seamus Power, looking to banish the memory of the Pinehurst greens from the mind with strong performances this week.

Defending champion Keegan Bradley heads into the week looking to go one better than his two runner-up finishes this season to retain his crown and the hefty haul of 700 FedEx Cup points on offer. Past champions Xander Schauffele (‘22) and Jordan Spieth (’17) will also tee it up around River Highlands and, with no cut in this signature event, spectators can look forward to four days of spectacle from the entire field.

River Highlands, tournament host venue since 1991 has undergone many design changes since its founding in 1928 and this year is no different. There have been “competitive enhancements” made to select holes, new tee boxes, narrower fairways and smaller greens all set up to challenge the best players on tour this week. 6,852 yards and playing to a par of 70, River Highlands is set to be the perfect backdrop for the action.

A 35-35 split with a single par-5 and two par-3s on each nine, culminating in a tough finishing stretch from holes 15-18. The 15, 16 and 17th holes all play around a four-acre lake. Stewart Cink, who won the 2008 Travelers Championship, called them, “four of the most exciting finishing holes in a group anywhere in the world.”

Shane Lowry heads into the week sitting 12th in the FedEx standings and coming off the back of another top-20 at a major. The Clara man is enjoying a solid season, and the Travelers represents a good chance to add to his win at the Zurich Classic with the absent McIlroy. Waterford’s own Seamus Power comes into the week having fallen foul to the US Open greens and a missed cut at Pinehurst. Power sits 72nd on the FedEx rankings and will be aiming to better his 12th place at the RBC Heritage in April and add to his haul of 509 points.

Lowry kicks off his tilt at the week at 3.50 pm Irish time on Thursday and will have Justin Thomas for company on his walk in one of the big pairings of the day. Power meanwhile will have Taylor Moore by his side as they take to the course at 2.25PM.

This being a signature event, there are marquee pairings everywhere you look for the opening two days. Defending champion Keegan Bradley will begin the defence of his title with Hideki Matsuyama at 3.20, with Max Homa and this season’s sensation Scottie Scheffler teeing off 10 minutes later. Jordan Speith and Wyndham Clarke follow next in what could be the three groupings worth following around the Connecticut countryside.

The evenings groups don’t disappoint either with more mouthwatering parings including Tommy Fleetwood and Lucas Glover, and Colin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland. They are followed shortly after by Finau and Cantlay and then Pavon and past champion Schauffele all heading out from 6.20PM onwards. Stardust everywhere you look for the opening day.

Speaking ahead of the week, 2022 champion Schauffele gave his thoughts on the course having tasted victory here previously: “I mean, just winning in general is obviously a nice memory to touch back upon in your own brain. It’s just a nice — coming to Travelers is awesome. They do such an amazing job for ourselves, our caddies and our support team.”

Asked how he found the changes to the course setup: “Yeah, I just played the front nine, so I noticed those moguls there on 6 on the right. If you throw your ball in there you’re going to get lost up in the fescue. Hard to find just tossing one in there shortly after. So, and then it seemed like some of the green surfaces — or Austin told me the greens on the back nine they kind of made a few areas a little bit smaller. So, I think overall the rough is up and the course might be playing a little bit harder than people are expecting.”

He also gave his reaction to the announcement that he had made the US Olympic team for the Paris games where he will defend the Gold Medal that he won in Tokyo in 2021.

“Yeah, it’s super special,” he said. “It’s always an honour to represent your country in any given tournament or event, so it was a really cool thing I was able to share with my family after winning the gold medal and qualifying was my first goal this year, it’s a very hard team to qualify for, as you guys have seen on this U.S. side. That was a really big goal of mine to get back and really looking forward to competing again.”

The action gets underway with Chris Gotterup kicking off proceedings at 1.05PM Irish time followed by Jake Knapp and Scott Robert MacIntyre shortly after. With the weather expected to rear its head on Friday and storms are forecast and rain set to be a feature of a weekend with no cut, Thursday could provide an opportunity to put a low number in the clubhouse to defend over the weekend in Cromwell, Connecticut.

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