CROMWELL, Conn. – The Travelers Championship, the third tournament of the PGA Tour after a 90-day hiatus from the coronavirus pandemic, began last week with a wave of positive tests for the virus among players and caddies.
But the Sunday afternoon of the last round, uncertainty, drama and the associated imports, it seemed almost reassuringly familiar when another PGA Tour event ended with gripping, tight pressure.
There was Dustin Johnson, in sixth place on the tour, standing in a pond with his pants rolled up desperately trying to save a few minutes after hooking a tee shot off the field and close enough was on a railroad to be a stowaway. There was Brendon Todd, who started the day with a two-stroke lead, who had to endure the dreaded despair of a shot chipshot ruining his round. There was Kevin Streelman who made a late attack pretending to summon the mojo of his Travelers win in 2014 when he finished the last round with seven consecutive birdies.
Oh yeah, and Bryson DeChambeau, who has won 40lbs from an intense training regimen designed to overpower tour layouts, once again crushing towering drives that made some holes look like a pitch-and-putt course. However, it turns out that pitching and putting is still a challenge for most golfers, including DeChambeau.
Finally with the T.P.C. River Highlands golf course about 12 miles outside of Hartford, Conn., Johnson had the right combination of tee power and agility on the greens to claim the one-stroke championship over Streelman. For Johnson, who shot a final round 67 to finish 19 under par for the tournament, it was his 21st Tour win and his first since he won the Golf World Championship in Mexico in February 2019. Nevertheless, getting the Travelers title means that Johnson has won a tour event in each of the past 13 seasons. Only Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have longer streaks for wins in consecutive PGA Tour seasons.
"Obviously it's a great streak, and every time you get called by those names is obviously a great achievement," Johnson said Sunday. "But it was a long time between the victories and hopefully I don't have to wait that long for the next one."
Johnson shot a career low 61 in the third round of Saturday and had to wait for Sunday due to a weather delay of about an hour as thunderstorms passed through downtown Connecticut. Johnson led the tournament with three holes to play at the time.
"The rain delay didn't help because I had time to think about things," he said. "I had played a good role before that."
It would be more accurate to say that Johnson landed after an adventurous piece of golf chasing Todd, but was suddenly interrupted by quirky tee shots. In total, Johnson had three bogeys and four birdies in his last 12 holes.
A bogey at the seventh hole started the bend, but Johnson gathered by sinking a 27-foot birdie putt that broke sharply from right to left on the eighth hole. Then he also birdied the next two holes. At the 13th hole, Johnson appeared to be in cruise control, but then turned his drive left out of bounds and struggled to make a bogey about what should be an easy par 5 for long-running Johnson. But he rallies with a birdie on the next hole.
On the 15th hole, a short, steerable par 4, Johnson & # 39; s tee shot went to a pond on the left. Although the ball landed a few feet from the water at high speed, luckily it remained on the grass bank for Johnson.
"I hit a 3 hybrid very badly," Johnson said of the shot. "I don't know what was going on with my tee balls today. And I was lucky, but I still had to go up and down for par."
Johnson & # 39; s only chance to Bringing the golf ball about 25 yards away to the green was wading through the pond, which he did after taking off his shoes and socks and getting his pants just below the knee. a third of the way to the green, but after reuniting with his shoes and socks, Johnson threw his third shot within four feet of the hole, making the par putt.
A bogeyman on the 16th after the delay of the weather, his lead over Streelman cut to one strike, but Streelman, who shot 67 on Sunday, was unable to replicate his magic of 2014 on the greens, finishing with five consecutive pars, it was Streelman's second runner -up finish of the year, second in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February 03]
"It's a bit disappointing, making a last birdie would have been fun," said Streelman. . & # 39; But I have to do a lot of positive things. I just played beautifully.
Todd, who overcame the dreaded swing-yips of golf a few years ago, had a two-shot lead over Johnson when his approach hit par 4, the 12th hole drifting slightly to the right of the green. Todd received a clumsy, upward chip punch within a meter or two of the green.
It was a delicate shot, but Todd shot the ball from his wedge and flew over the green and sharply to the right. Now that he needed a flop shot to ascend to the green, Todd's attempt was short and rolled back down the hill. A putt still did not reach the green and two putts later, Todd was out of the game after a triple-bogey seven. For Todd, it was the first time he had made no par or better since the fourth hole of Thursday's first round.
The PGA Tour will resume next week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, starting July 2.