FOR THE TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP
"This is a new set of clubs for me, but I brought my shafts from an old set. That's helped keep a consistent feel."
FT9 Tour Authentic (8.5°)
Voodoo XVS6 (X flex)
Voodoo XVS6 (X flex)
Idea Pro Gold (18°)
NV Hybrid 105 (X flex)
(Three through pitching wedge)
Project X 7.0 (X flex)
X Tour (52° and 58°)
Project X 7.0 (X flex)
THIS WEEK'S MAIN EVENT
THE TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP
It'll be hard not to follow Brian Gay in Connecticut. The guy went 292 starts without a win but now has three W's in his last 43 events. He'll no doubt be a favorite as well as an inspiration at the Travelers, where long-shot reclamation projects abound. There will be struggling former major winners Rich Beem, Mark Brooks, Steve Elkington and Corey Pavin. Paul Azinger and Bob Tway can reflect on what it's like to steal a major from Greg Norman by holing out on the final hole, although they'll miss Larry Mize. Who else? How about Chris Riley, Chris DiMarco, Notah Begay III and Kirk Triplett. Meanwhile, stumbling stalwarts such as Vijay Singh, Anthony Kim and Stuart Appleby, who's missed the cut in six of 15 starts and finished better than 30th only once this year, will attempt to get on track.
In its 57-year history the Travelers has established itself as a bastion of tight finishes (see chart, below). This has been particularly true since the tournament left Wethersfield Country Club in 1983 for TPC River Highlands. The event has been played 25 times at the TPC, and on 17 occasions it was decided by either one shot or in a playoff.
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
Won by four shots or more - 7
Won by three shots - 4
Won by two shots - 8
Won in a playoff - 19
Won by one shot - 19
—Compiled by Sal Johnson
Mud, Wet And Tears
1 When asked last Thursday at Bethpage if he could envision any circumstance in which the players would be allowed to employ lift, clean and place, Jim Hyler, the USGA's championship committee chairman, responded succinctly, "No." Asked to expand, Hyler said, "We're not going to play lift, clean and place. We'll suspend. If we can't play it, if it's not fair to be playing the ball as it lies, we'll suspend play. We'll stay here until we get a champion." And so we did.
2 Never on a (Major) Sunday
When rain drenches a course to the point that standing water is an issue, all the major tours (PGA, LPGA, Champions, Nationwide, European) enact local rules that allow players to lift, clean and place their balls either near the resting place or within one club length to get relief. "It's absolutely the last resort," says PGA Tour rules official Mark Russell. The PGA Tour has been using such rules since the 1960s and the LPGA for almost as long, but they are organizations run by the players (in essence) and have to worry about a postponement disrupting the following week's schedule.
That's not a concern at the majors. None of the four men's majors have ever played lift, clean and place, although those rules were used at the 2004 Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla and the 2008 LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock.
The USGA has always been particularly adamant about playing it as it lays. At the rain-soaked 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills, then director of rules and competitions Tom Meeks famously called the practice "lift, clean and cheat" and swore the USGA would never allow it. If a player's ball comes to rest in standing water, the USGA does permit him to lift and drop it at the point of nearest relief no closer to the hole, as allowed by rule 25.1b, but it does not issue a coursewide ruling that lets players pick up their ball after each shot.
3 Dirt + Water = Trouble
Pros love lift, clean and place because it allows them to wipe their ball, removing any of the mud that can make the next shot unpredictable.
It will make the ball go right but by how much is anyone's guess.
DOWN THE MIDDLE
On top, in the front or back, it creates a knuckleball effect.
It'll go left. As with the others, take an extra club, swing easy and pray.
Adam and Iv
Word on the cart paths of Bethpage had it that Adam Scott has gone so flowing-mane-over-soft-spikes for Ana Ivanovic, the statuesque tennis player from Serbia who's ranked 12th in the world, that he will skip Tiger Woods's AT&T National to attend Wimbledon.... Ian Poulter seems to be taking on Stewart Cink for the title of golf's Twitter champ. On Sunday, Cink led in followers, 374,507 to 80,071, but Poulter earned points last week by taking on the USGA in 140 characters or less and tweeting running commentary on the movie The Hangover, which he went to see during last Friday's rain delay.... Stat of the week: three—as in, only three of 109 U.S. Opens have finished on Monday because of weather (1926, '65 and 2009).... The late finish meant that five players—Retief Goosen, Todd Hamilton, Anthony Kim, Camilo Villegas and Bubba Watson—had to bail on the CVS Caremark Charity Classic, an unofficial annual event in Rhode Island run by Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon. Luckily, CVS had a Band-Aid ready, bringing in Brad Adamonis, Matt Kuchar, David Toms, Brittany Lincicome and Laura Diaz.... Last week SI contributing writer Jack McCallum (below) camped in an RV near Bethpage (follow his tale at golf.com/rv), where the most popular player was amateur Drew Weaver, who proved so genuine and personable that one campground family named their cat after him.
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TWO PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY SI IMAGING: FRED VUICH (CLUBS, BALL)
CARYN LEVY/PGA TOUR/GETTY IMAGES (APPLEBY)
SLIM FILMS (GOLF BALL CHART)
ROBERT BECK (CADDIE)
FRED VUICH (WOODS)
SPLASH DOWN Tiger Woods found a soggylie at Bethpage.
FRED VUICH (MUD BALLS)
SIMON BRUTY (RV)