Let’s first take a look at the US Open results for our beloved Bulldogs.
Brendon Todd missed the cut with scores of 78-71. Two double bogeys in his opening round was the difference.
Spencer Ralston didn’t make the cut, but scores of 75-73 in his first major and on a tough golf course is nothing to hang your head about.
Greyson Sigg made the cut with 1 to spare, then shot weekend rounds of 75-75 to finish T62. He missed more fairways than he hit, and barely hit more than half the greens. Unless you one-putt everything, this won’t get you too far. He cashes a check for $24,310.
Kevin Kisner made the cut on the number, and 72-75 on the weekend. He was a par machine, unfortunately he only made 7 birdies for the entire week. His T55 finish gives him $26,056 in earnings.
Bubba Watson made some noise with a tournament low-tying 67 in the 2nd round. He was firmly in the top 10 Saturday afternoon until a slow start and a 77 in the 3rd round pushed him back. Bubba still won $27,327 for a tie for 50th.
Brian Harman was 2nd in total number of putts for the week. That came in handy as he made plenty of birdies. And also because he hit less than 50% of his greens so the up and downs kept him near par. Rounds of 72-71-71-72 put him at T19 ($125,363) and tied with Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas. No shame in that.
After an opening 67, Russell Henley had a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds. Unfortunately, his scores crept up each day: 67-70-71-76. The final round included 3 straight bogeys on the front nine and he wasn’t able to bounce back on Sunday. Though he won $217,796, I think he’d rather have the short putt he missed on the 72nd hole that would’ve given him a top 10 finish and exemption into next year’s US Open. But he did miss and finished T13.
Harris English snuck into a solo 3rd place finish at 3 under par. At least it seemed like he snuck in. In actuality, opening rounds of 72-71-70 had him perfectly positioned to move up the leaderboard Sunday. He was at even par after 10 holes in the final round, but with the subsequent field carnage, and English birdieing 3 of his final 5 holes, his 3 under made him the clubhouse leader until the final 45 minutes. That finish gets him into many other tournaments and majors, and he takes home $829,084 for his efforts, plus world ranking points and FedEx Cup points.
Now onto this week’s setting:
Tournament: Travelers Championship, June 24-27, 2021
Course: TPC River Highlands, par 70, 6,841 yards. Just outside Hartford, CT and on the west bank of the Connecticut River.
Purse: $7,4 million in total, and $1,332,000 to the winner.
Defending Champ: Dustin Johnson. The world #1 fired weekend rounds of 61-65 to win for the 13th consecutive season on Tour. His final score of 19 under par seems impressive. For perspective, former Bulldog Brendon Todd was 18 under par after 3 rounds and leading (also shooting 61 on Saturday), but Todd fell apart down the stretch Sunday with a 75 and T11 as final resting spot on the leaderboard.
Fun Fact: Bubba Watson has won this tournament 3 times (2010, 2015, 2018) and only Billy Casper has emerged victorious more (4 wins). He also has a runner-up and 2 more top 10 finishes. What is more impressive is his charitable giving here. The redneck from the Florida panhandle is obviously comfortable in the Nutmeg State, and is comfortable with that 100% of tournament proceeds go to charity. This has affected Bubba so much that he has decided to participate. In 3 of the public announcements (I guarantee there are some private ones), Gerry Lee Jr. donated $100,000 to the Bruce Edwards Foundation (to fight ALS) in 2016; he donated $200,000 to the Hole In The Wall Gang Camp in 2018; and recently gave another $25,000 to the same Gang Camp after it was damaged in a fire. Bubba is a generous guy, and a Damn Good ‘Dawg.
TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (CBS).
‘Dawgs in the Field: 11. Rarely have I been able to put double-digits in this column, but here we are. Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Keith Mitchell, Sepp Straka, Hudson Swafford, Davis Thompson, Brendon Todd, and Bubba Watson.
Out of 156 golfers, 11 are former Georgia Bulldogs (Patrick Reed would make an even dozen, but we’ve discussed here before why he isn’t included). That’s a full 7%, far more than any other collegiate program, and a Bulldog point of pride.
The course is almost 1,000 yards shorter than last week’s Torrey Pines, and the scores will be commensurate. That is to say, this week will be a birdie-fest. This course has surrendered multiple scores of 61, a 60, and the only 58 in PGA Tour history (Jim Furyk). If you’re not shooting 66 or so, you’ll fall down the leaderboard.
Bubba Watson is obviously a field favorite thanks to his wins and top finishes. Brian Harman has 7 top 20 finishes since the Players Championship, and has 3 top 10 finishes here. Brendon Todd was in the mix last year, but doesn’t have the same form. Hudson Swafford had a top 5 two weeks ago in the Memorial, and obviously English and Henley played great last week. So there’s plenty to be hopeful about, and plenty of ‘Dawgs to cheer for. And as always...