Reavie Wins Travelers Championship
CROMWELL, CONNECTICUT - JUNE 23: Chez Reavie of the United States walks on the ninth green during the final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 23, 2019 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

CROMWELL, Conn. – Mike York has caddied for his friend Chez Reavie for six years, so he has excellent insight into what makes him tick.

“He’s a little bulldog,” York said. “He’s an MMA fighter trapped in a golfer’s world. He hates to lose more than he likes to win.”

Reavie demonstrated those exact traits on several fronts on his way to winning his second PGA Tour victory in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Reavie fell six strokes behind upstart Zach Sucher midway through the third round, but as Sucher imploded with a bogey-double bogey-double bogey start to the back nine thanks in part to some tough luck and Reavie made three consecutive birdies, the tournament storyline suddenly changed.

The shocking eight-stroke swing in three holes became a 12-shot turnaround by the end of the day, giving Reavie a six-stroke lead over Sucher and Vermont native Keegan Bradley entering the final round. It was the largest 54-hole advantage since the tournament began in 1952 as the Insurance City Open at Wethersfield Country Club.

But as the $7.2 million event headed down the back stretch on Sunday, it appeared as if it might be déjà vu all over again. Reavie didn’t have any implosions, but Bradley applied plenty of pressure. While Reavie was making one birdie and one bogey in the first 15 holes, Bradley was rattling off six birdies to easily offset one bogey. When Bradley holed a 71/2-foot birdie putt at No. 15 to get within a shot of the lead, he pumped his fist and looked toward a boisterous partisan crowd where dozens of family and friends were rooting, some too vociferously, causing him to ask for some civility.

“Some fans said they loved me, but they loved Keegan more,” Reavie said later. “The people, except for one or two knuckleheads, were having fun, but I don’t think they necessarily understand how important it is to us. Keegan was great. He told them to stop it and back down when I was trying to putt. It wasn’t malicious by any means. It was Sunday and just another test I had to go through.”

Reavie said the back nine was a challenge, for sure, but he focused on one shot at a time.

“I still played aggressive, even though I had the six-shot lead,” he said. “I didn’t shy away from flags and hit the same shots I did all week. Unfortunately, I didn’t make any putts until the end.”

On the par-3 16th hole, Bradley hit his tee shot over the green but made a brilliant chip to 2 feet to save par as Reavie missed his fifth very makeable birdie putt on the day. But the suspense suddenly ended at the water-lined 17th hole, which Reavie called the most visibly difficult on the course. He hit a perfect drive, knocked his approach to 14 feet and made the putt for his second birdie while Bradley drove into a fairway bunker, skulled his 9-iron second shot over the green and then three-putted from 18 feet for a double-bogey 6.

A routine par at the 18th gave Reavie a 2-under-par 69 for a 72-hole total of 17-under 263 and a four-stroke victory over Bradley and Sucher, whose 5-under 30 on the back nine was 10 strokes better than Saturday.

“This means everything,” said Reavie, who had only three bogeys in the tournament. “I knew Keegan was going to come out firing and ready to go. I’ve played a lot golf with him, and he’s a fantastic player. I just was fortunate enough to stay patient and make that big putt on 17 to give myself a little cushion on 18.”

Reavie, 37, said a tie for third in the U.S. Open the previous week went a long way to his first victory in 250 starts and 3,983 days since he won his only other PGA Tour title in the 2008 RBC Canadian Open in his rookie season.

“Being in the second-to-last group the last day of the U.S. Open definitely gave me a lot of confidence coming into this week, and particularly today,” said Reavie, who had never finished better than a tie for 11th (2012) in eight previous tournament appearances. “I played really well on Sunday at the U.S. Open, and I tried to treat this week the same as I did then.”

The 11-year victory drought was littered with numerous knee and wrist injuries, the worst that forced him to have surgery on his left wrist on Jan. 14, 2014 and forced him to wear three different length casts before being able to start rehabilitation that prevented him from returning to golf for nearly a year.

“That was the low point,” Reavie said. “The doctor said the surgery went great, but there was a 50/50 shot whether it was going to work, and there was no guarantee that I wasn’t going to go make one full swing when he allowed me to and it wasn’t going to happen again. So those were probably the darkest days. Just the unknown and sitting at home not being able to do anything and your mind wandering. OK, if it didn’t work, I can’t play golf, what am I going to do?

“So I had some long years, but it was great because it gave me perseverance and good perspective of what life is and what golf is. I enjoy every minute of every week I’m out here now, and I don’t think I would necessarily be that way if I didn’t go through those tough times. It was a long process, but one I stayed diligent at and did exactly what the doctors told me to do.”

Reavie’s wife, Amanda, said keeping busy and a month’s vacation in Europe helped her husband survive those darkest days.

“He had a really good attitude,” Amanda said after listening to her husband’s victory press conference. “We kept busy doing something all the time, and he even got into Xbox. The wrist problems were much worse than his ACL reconstruction. At least he could get up and walk, but the doctors wouldn’t even let him ride a stationary bike during his wrist rehab.”

But all that seemed forgotten after Reavie’s improbable rally on the back nine in the third round. He played plenty steady the final day, and only the handful of reasonable birdie putts that failed to drop made it difficult for him.

Working with coach Mark Blackburn helped make a major difference.

“I went through the wrist injury and sat down with him and picked his brain on what he thought I should do,” Reavie recalled. “We pretty much tried to change my swing to swallow it out to get rid of the flip at the bottom just to mainly take pressure off my left wrist. What that did is just helped build some consistency in my swing.

“I learned how to match my path to club face. So before I would come in the face would be a little open and I would slam it and get real steep at the bottom, which would pretty much cause my left wrist to blow up. We tried to square it earlier in the downswing and then just rotate and keep it nice and shallow.”

That may seem complicated to the layman, but it made Reavie a much more consistent and better player.

Bradley, whose four PGA Tour victories include the 2011 PGA Championship in his first major event, was a pedestrian 1-under 34 on the front nine in the final round, but he began his charge with birdie putts of 11 and 14 feet on the 10th and 11th holes. A 9-foot birdie putt at No. 13 got him within three, and he got to only one down with a 7-footer for birdie at the 15th.

But all good things came to an end at the fateful 17th hole, where many winning tournament hopes have been dashed through the years. Bradley was trying to put together the second biggest come-from-behind victory to the seven-stroke rally by Rhode Island native Brad Faxon in 2005. Three-time champion Bubba Watson rallied from six back in 2010 and 2015.

“I was just having so much fun,” Bradley said. “The crowds, man, that was so great. It felt like a Ryder Cup for me because they were so loud. You just dream of that as a kid. It was just incredible. I was having the time of my life.”

And the 17th hole?

“I hit a good drive and it just bounced into the bunker,” Bradley said. “It was such a tough (second) shot (over water), but I hit a brutal shot and got it thin. I ran my first putt four feet by, which was tough. I wish I could have that back, but I’m proud of the way I played. I knew Chez was just going to be on the fairway, on the green. He was playing great, so I knew he was going to be really tough to beat, and he was.

“But the week was a dream come true. I got to play in front of the fans of New England and put on a show. I’ve never felt that type of support ever. Maybe in a Ryder Cup. I imagined this as a kid coming to the Greater Hartford Open, now the Travelers Championship, when I was 10 years old. I was out there living it. The fans were on my side, and it was so fun. I’m speechless. To come to this tournament every year of putting myself in this position and having this chance on the back side lived up to the hype. It was awesome.”

But Bradley gave plenty of plaudits to his playing partner, who moved to 13th in the Presidents Cup race (the top eight automatically qualify for captain Tiger Woods’ team) and 24th in the FedExCup points standings.

“After I made the putt on 11, I was thinking I had a real good shot at winning because of how difficult the shots are coming in for a guy with a lead,” Bradley said. “I kept the pressure on him the whole day, but all the credit to him. He played so well, and I knew he would. He’s one of the best players out here and has been for a long time. Not a lot of the public knows it, but he’s a great player.”

A lot of folks felt plenty good for Sucher, the last player in the tournament via a Korn Ford Tour sponsors’ exemption from Travelers. Sucher put his disastrous meltdown Saturday mostly out of his mind except for a four-putt for double-bogey 6 at No. 9 that gave him a 1-over 37 on that side. But he made five birdies on the back side for 67 and his best finish on the PGA Tour. It was worth $633,600, doubling his career earnings and moving himself within striking distance of getting a PGA Tour card off a major medical exemption.

“Honestly, the four-putt was great,” Sucher said. “It got me going. I was rattled enough maybe to get over it. I didn’t feel like I was putting too well before then. I felt like I had some good putts that didn’t go in but also had some pushes on holes early. I putted awesome after No. 9.”

Sucher, sidelined for two years with a variety of injuries after the 2017 Travelers Championship, capped the most memorable week of his golfing life when he holed an 18-foot chip from the rough on the 18th hole, eliciting a roar from the crowd that filled the amphitheater setting.

“Oh, man, that was pretty cool,” beamed Sucher, who couldn’t touch a club for 13 months following knee surgery. “The first chip was awful, but that’s way better than a regular up-and-down. The back nine was exciting. I hung in there, which is great.”

So, too, was a third-place finish in a PGA Tour event for a struggling Korn Ford Tour member.

“I’m not sure what all this does points-wise for next year,” Sucher said. “But I know that two months ago we had credit card debt, so I know we don’t have that anymore.”

Talk about changing someone’s life, especially with his family looking on.

“I wasn’t sure how I would handle it this weekend,” said Sucher, making only his fourth PGA Tour start. “I haven’t been in a situation like that out here. Done it on the Korn Ferry Tour a few times, but this is a little different. Crowd-wise everything is about 10 times bigger out here, so to be honest, it was so much fun.

“It was a lot of highs and lows, but I honestly can’t wrap my head around it. First time I’ve been in this situation. Obviously, I would have liked to be winning, but it gives me a huge boost of confidence knowing that I can hang in there. It was amazing. It was life changing.”

Vaughan Taylor finished in amazing fashion, birdying the last five holes to shoot a back-nine 29, one off the record, for 65 and fourth place at 268.

Paul Casey had his fourth top-5 finish in five Travelers Championship appearances thanks to stellar work down the stretch. He drove the 289-yard, par-4 15th and needed only a 6-foot, 9-inch putt to register an eagle 2. He capped another terrific Travelers showing with an 8-foot putt for his third birdie of the day at the 18th hole that more than offset his lone bogey at No. 11 to shoot 65 for 269 and a tie for fifth with PGA Tour rookie Joaquin Niemann (66) and Kevin Tway (67).

Abraham Ancer made the biggest move, carding seven birdies in a 63, the low round of the final round, to vault into a tie for eighth at 270 with Brian Harman (66), Jason Day (69), Bryson DeChambeau (68) and Roberto Diaz (69).

Watson, trying to tie Hall of Famer Billy Casper for most tournament wins, shot 279 for a tie for 54th, his worst showing since he missed the cut in his second appearance in 2008.

Brooks Koepka, admittedly fatigued after he won a second consecutive PGA Championship in May and finished second to Gary Woodland in the U.S. Open, never really challenged while shooting 280 for a tie for 57th.

But that was better than former champions Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, two of the stars in the best field since Travelers became title sponsor in 2007. Mickelson, the only back-to-back winner (2001-02) in tournament history, had an opening 67 but limped to a 76 and missed the 138 cut by five strokes. Spieth, whose 61-foot bunker shot on the first playoff hole beat Daniel Berger in 2017, wasn’t much better, shooting 73-69. Fairfield native J.J. Henry, the only Connecticut to capture the title in 2006, shot 70-72 to miss his 11th cut in 16 starts this season. Richy Werenski, the only New Englander to make the cut besides Bradley, shot 281 to tie for 60th.

But they were also-rans to a champion who had overcome more off the course than on it.

“It was great because I had a great support system: my wife and my family and my trainers and coaches,” said Reavie, who tied for third in the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. “Everyone kind of rallied behind me and picked me up on my down days. Once I got going and started seeing that I can hit golf shots and saw the progress that I was making, I was excited and ready to go.

“Now after finally getting it done, you feel like you can win. I’ve played well down the stretch. In Phoenix (in 2018), I birdied the last hole to force a playoff and lost (to U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland) and finished second the week after that (at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am). I’ve been close, but it’s just not the same as sealing the deal and winning a golf tournament.”

No player was happier for Reavie than Casey, a friend who also attended Arizona State University and belongs to the same golf club.

“I wanted Chez to win. He’s tough as nails,” said Casey, who was a senior when Reavie arrived as a freshman. “He’s a dear friend and one of the most solid guys out here. He’s been through a lot of injuries, and he works incredibly hard. We have a lot of common themes, and the golf he played yesterday, the 28 (that tied the back-nine tournament record) was one of the best nines that I can think of since I’ve been on tour, knowing the winds that he faced.

“He wasn’t really heavily recruited. He was just kind of the local kid (Scottsdale, Ariz.) that ended up on the team at ASU. We were very fortunate he chose to play his college golf there. He had the ability to go anywhere. He was the (USGA) Public Links champion, but it looked like he didn’t have the athleticism that a lot of players have on tour now. He didn’t really have that extra something, but what he doesn’t have in stature he makes up for in tenacity and grit.”

Reavie joked that he “pretty much just hounded” the coach of the Wildcats until he had to take him.

“That’s where I wanted to go because of guys like Paul Casey and Jeff Quinney and Matt Jones,” Reavie said. “It was going to be a stepping stone for me. I was either going to get better and learn that I could do it for a living, or I was going to realize I wasn’t good enough and was going to have to get a job. That’s kind of when I came into my own and figured out that I was good enough to come out here and play.”

Casey insists Reavie would have won more on tour if he hadn’t gone through so many injuries.

“I’ve been through injuries as well, so I know how difficult it is,” Casey said. “I’m incredibly proud of what he has achieved on tour. He’s got so much more to achieve as well, so hopefully this is a start of many things.”

Another highlight of the week was a new $20 million clubhouse that is 40,000 square feet, which four times the size of the original facility. It drew rave reviews from players and fans as the latest major upgrade by the tournament. A $5 million state-of-the-art practice facility was built in 2014 that included a First Tee of Connecticut Learning Center and adjacent four-hole mini-course geared toward the more than 70,000 youngsters involved with the program. Two years ago, there were $3 million worth of course changes focused on the fairways and bunkers.

 

 

A Caddies Help—York Shares Reavie Win 

By Bruce Berlet

CROMWELL, Conn. – Mike York has caddied for his friend Chez Reavie for six years, so he has excellent insight into what makes him tick.

“He’s a little bulldog,” York said. “He’s an MMA fighter trapped in a golfer’s world. He hates to lose more than he likes to win.”

Reavie demonstrated those exact traits on several fronts on his way to winning his second PGA Tour victory in the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Reavie fell six strokes behind upstart Zach Sucher midway through the third round, but as Sucher imploded with a bogey-double bogey-double bogey start to the back nine thanks in part to some tough luck and Reavie made three consecutive birdies, the tournament storyline suddenly changed.

The shocking eight-stroke swing in three holes became a 12-shot turnaround by the end of the day, giving Reavie a six-stroke lead over Sucher and Vermont native Keegan Bradley entering the final round. It was the largest 54-hole advantage since the tournament began in 1952 as the Insurance City Open at Wethersfield Country Club.

But as the $7.2 million event headed down the back stretch on Sunday, it appeared as if it might be déjà vu all over again. Reavie didn’t have any implosions, but Bradley applied plenty of pressure. While Reavie was making one birdie and one bogey in the first 15 holes, Bradley was rattling off six birdies to easily offset one bogey. When Bradley holed a 71/2-foot birdie putt at No. 15 to get within a shot of the lead, he pumped his fist and looked toward a boisterous partisan crowd where dozens of family and friends were rooting, some too vociferously, causing him to ask for some civility.

“Some fans said they loved me, but they loved Keegan more,” Reavie said later. “The people, except for one or two knuckleheads, were having fun, but I don’t think they necessarily understand how important it is to us. Keegan was great. He told them to stop it and back down when I was trying to putt. It wasn’t malicious by any means. It was Sunday and just another test I had to go through.”

Reavie said the back nine was a challenge, for sure, but he focused on one shot at a time.

“I still played aggressive, even though I had the six-shot lead,” he said. “I didn’t shy away from flags and hit the same shots I did all week. Unfortunately, I didn’t make any putts until the end.”

On the par-3 16th hole, Bradley hit his tee shot over the green but made a brilliant chip to 2 feet to save par as Reavie missed his fifth very makeable birdie putt on the day. But the suspense suddenly ended at the water-lined 17th hole, which Reavie called the most visibly difficult on the course. He hit a perfect drive, knocked his approach to 14 feet and made the putt for his second birdie while Bradley drove into a fairway bunker, skulled his 9-iron second shot over the green and then three-putted from 18 feet for a double-bogey 6.

A routine par at the 18th gave Reavie a 2-under-par 69 for a 72-hole total of 17-under 263 and a four-stroke victory over Bradley and Sucher, whose 5-under 30 on the back nine was 10 strokes better than Saturday.

“This means everything,” said Reavie, who had only three bogeys in the tournament. “I knew Keegan was going to come out firing and ready to go. I’ve played a lot golf with him, and he’s a fantastic player. I just was fortunate enough to stay patient and make that big putt on 17 to give myself a little cushion on 18.”

Reavie, 37, said a tie for third in the U.S. Open the previous week went a long way to his first victory in 250 starts and 3,983 days since he won his only other PGA Tour title in the 2008 RBC Canadian Open in his rookie season.

“Being in the second-to-last group the last day of the U.S. Open definitely gave me a lot of confidence coming into this week, and particularly today,” said Reavie, who had never finished better than a tie for 11th (2012) in eight previous tournament appearances. “I played really well on Sunday at the U.S. Open, and I tried to treat this week the same as I did then.”

The 11-year victory drought was littered with numerous knee and wrist injuries, the worst that forced him to have surgery on his left wrist on Jan. 14, 2014 and forced him to wear three different length casts before being able to start rehabilitation that prevented him from returning to golf for nearly a year.

“That was the low point,” Reavie said. “The doctor said the surgery went great, but there was a 50/50 shot whether it was going to work, and there was no guarantee that I wasn’t going to go make one full swing when he allowed me to and it wasn’t going to happen again. So those were probably the darkest days. Just the unknown and sitting at home not being able to do anything and your mind wandering. OK, if it didn’t work, I can’t play golf, what am I going to do?

“So I had some long years, but it was great because it gave me perseverance and good perspective of what life is and what golf is. I enjoy every minute of every week I’m out here now, and I don’t think I would necessarily be that way if I didn’t go through those tough times. It was a long process, but one I stayed diligent at and did exactly what the doctors told me to do.”

Reavie’s wife, Amanda, said keeping busy and a month’s vacation in Europe helped her husband survive those darkest days.

“He had a really good attitude,” Amanda said after listening to her husband’s victory press conference. “We kept busy doing something all the time, and he even got into Xbox. The wrist problems were much worse than his ACL reconstruction. At least he could get up and walk, but the doctors wouldn’t even let him ride a stationary bike during his wrist rehab.”

But all that seemed forgotten after Reavie’s improbable rally on the back nine in the third round. He played plenty steady the final day, and only the handful of reasonable birdie putts that failed to drop made it difficult for him.

Working with coach Mark Blackburn helped make a major difference.

“I went through the wrist injury and sat down with him and picked his brain on what he thought I should do,” Reavie recalled. “We pretty much tried to change my swing to swallow it out to get rid of the flip at the bottom just to mainly take pressure off my left wrist. What that did is just helped build some consistency in my swing.

“I learned how to match my path to club face. So before I would come in the face would be a little open and I would slam it and get real steep at the bottom, which would pretty much cause my left wrist to blow up. We tried to square it earlier in the downswing and then just rotate and keep it nice and shallow.”

That may seem complicated to the layman, but it made Reavie a much more consistent and better player.

Bradley, whose four PGA Tour victories include the 2011 PGA Championship in his first major event, was a pedestrian 1-under 34 on the front nine in the final round, but he began his charge with birdie putts of 11 and 14 feet on the 10th and 11th holes. A 9-foot birdie putt at No. 13 got him within three, and he got to only one down with a 7-footer for birdie at the 15th.

But all good things came to an end at the fateful 17th hole, where many winning tournament hopes have been dashed through the years. Bradley was trying to put together the second biggest come-from-behind victory to the seven-stroke rally by Rhode Island native Brad Faxon in 2005. Three-time champion Bubba Watson rallied from six back in 2010 and 2015.

“I was just having so much fun,” Bradley said. “The crowds, man, that was so great. It felt like a Ryder Cup for me because they were so loud. You just dream of that as a kid. It was just incredible. I was having the time of my life.”

And the 17th hole?

“I hit a good drive and it just bounced into the bunker,” Bradley said. “It was such a tough (second) shot (over water), but I hit a brutal shot and got it thin. I ran my first putt four feet by, which was tough. I wish I could have that back, but I’m proud of the way I played. I knew Chez was just going to be on the fairway, on the green. He was playing great, so I knew he was going to be really tough to beat, and he was.

“But the week was a dream come true. I got to play in front of the fans of New England and put on a show. I’ve never felt that type of support ever. Maybe in a Ryder Cup. I imagined this as a kid coming to the Greater Hartford Open, now the Travelers Championship, when I was 10 years old. I was out there living it. The fans were on my side, and it was so fun. I’m speechless. To come to this tournament every year of putting myself in this position and having this chance on the back side lived up to the hype. It was awesome.”

But Bradley gave plenty of plaudits to his playing partner, who moved to 13th in the Presidents Cup race (the top eight automatically qualify for captain Tiger Woods’ team) and 24th in the FedExCup points standings.

“After I made the putt on 11, I was thinking I had a real good shot at winning because of how difficult the shots are coming in for a guy with a lead,” Bradley said. “I kept the pressure on him the whole day, but all the credit to him. He played so well, and I knew he would. He’s one of the best players out here and has been for a long time. Not a lot of the public knows it, but he’s a great player.”

A lot of folks felt plenty good for Sucher, the last player in the tournament via a Korn Ford Tour sponsors’ exemption from Travelers. Sucher put his disastrous meltdown Saturday mostly out of his mind except for a four-putt for double-bogey 6 at No. 9 that gave him a 1-over 37 on that side. But he made five birdies on the back side for 67 and his best finish on the PGA Tour. It was worth $633,600, doubling his career earnings and moving himself within striking distance of getting a PGA Tour card off a major medical exemption.

“Honestly, the four-putt was great,” Sucher said. “It got me going. I was rattled enough maybe to get over it. I didn’t feel like I was putting too well before then. I felt like I had some good putts that didn’t go in but also had some pushes on holes early. I putted awesome after No. 9.”

Sucher, sidelined for two years with a variety of injuries after the 2017 Travelers Championship, capped the most memorable week of his golfing life when he holed an 18-foot chip from the rough on the 18th hole, eliciting a roar from the crowd that filled the amphitheater setting.

“Oh, man, that was pretty cool,” beamed Sucher, who couldn’t touch a club for 13 months following knee surgery. “The first chip was awful, but that’s way better than a regular up-and-down. The back nine was exciting. I hung in there, which is great.”

So, too, was a third-place finish in a PGA Tour event for a struggling Korn Ford Tour member.

“I’m not sure what all this does points-wise for next year,” Sucher said. “But I know that two months ago we had credit card debt, so I know we don’t have that anymore.”

Talk about changing someone’s life, especially with his family looking on.

“I wasn’t sure how I would handle it this weekend,” said Sucher, making only his fourth PGA Tour start. “I haven’t been in a situation like that out here. Done it on the Korn Ferry Tour a few times, but this is a little different. Crowd-wise everything is about 10 times bigger out here, so to be honest, it was so much fun.

“It was a lot of highs and lows, but I honestly can’t wrap my head around it. First time I’ve been in this situation. Obviously, I would have liked to be winning, but it gives me a huge boost of confidence knowing that I can hang in there. It was amazing. It was life changing.”

Vaughan Taylor finished in amazing fashion, birdying the last five holes to shoot a back-nine 29, one off the record, for 65 and fourth place at 268.

Paul Casey had his fourth top-5 finish in five Travelers Championship appearances thanks to stellar work down the stretch. He drove the 289-yard, par-4 15th and needed only a 6-foot, 9-inch putt to register an eagle 2. He capped another terrific Travelers showing with an 8-foot putt for his third birdie of the day at the 18th hole that more than offset his lone bogey at No. 11 to shoot 65 for 269 and a tie for fifth with PGA Tour rookie Joaquin Niemann (66) and Kevin Tway (67).

Abraham Ancer made the biggest move, carding seven birdies in a 63, the low round of the final round, to vault into a tie for eighth at 270 with Brian Harman (66), Jason Day (69), Bryson DeChambeau (68) and Roberto Diaz (69).

Watson, trying to tie Hall of Famer Billy Casper for most tournament wins, shot 279 for a tie for 54th, his worst showing since he missed the cut in his second appearance in 2008.

Brooks Koepka, admittedly fatigued after he won a second consecutive PGA Championship in May and finished second to Gary Woodland in the U.S. Open, never really challenged while shooting 280 for a tie for 57th.

But that was better than former champions Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, two of the stars in the best field since Travelers became title sponsor in 2007. Mickelson, the only back-to-back winner (2001-02) in tournament history, had an opening 67 but limped to a 76 and missed the 138 cut by five strokes. Spieth, whose 61-foot bunker shot on the first playoff hole beat Daniel Berger in 2017, wasn’t much better, shooting 73-69. Fairfield native J.J. Henry, the only Connecticut to capture the title in 2006, shot 70-72 to miss his 11th cut in 16 starts this season. Richy Werenski, the only New Englander to make the cut besides Bradley, shot 281 to tie for 60th.

But they were also-rans to a champion who had overcome more off the course than on it.

“It was great because I had a great support system: my wife and my family and my trainers and coaches,” said Reavie, who tied for third in the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. “Everyone kind of rallied behind me and picked me up on my down days. Once I got going and started seeing that I can hit golf shots and saw the progress that I was making, I was excited and ready to go.

“Now after finally getting it done, you feel like you can win. I’ve played well down the stretch. In Phoenix (in 2018), I birdied the last hole to force a playoff and lost (to U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland) and finished second the week after that (at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am). I’ve been close, but it’s just not the same as sealing the deal and winning a golf tournament.”

No player was happier for Reavie than Casey, a friend who also attended Arizona State University and belongs to the same golf club.

“I wanted Chez to win. He’s tough as nails,” said Casey, who was a senior when Reavie arrived as a freshman. “He’s a dear friend and one of the most solid guys out here. He’s been through a lot of injuries, and he works incredibly hard. We have a lot of common themes, and the golf he played yesterday, the 28 (that tied the back-nine tournament record) was one of the best nines that I can think of since I’ve been on tour, knowing the winds that he faced.

“He wasn’t really heavily recruited. He was just kind of the local kid (Scottsdale, Ariz.) that ended up on the team at ASU. We were very fortunate he chose to play his college golf there. He had the ability to go anywhere. He was the (USGA) Public Links champion, but it looked like he didn’t have the athleticism that a lot of players have on tour now. He didn’t really have that extra something, but what he doesn’t have in stature he makes up for in tenacity and grit.”

Reavie joked that he “pretty much just hounded” the coach of the Wildcats until he had to take him.

“That’s where I wanted to go because of guys like Paul Casey and Jeff Quinney and Matt Jones,” Reavie said. “It was going to be a stepping stone for me. I was either going to get better and learn that I could do it for a living, or I was going to realize I wasn’t good enough and was going to have to get a job. That’s kind of when I came into my own and figured out that I was good enough to come out here and play.”

Casey insists Reavie would have won more on tour if he hadn’t gone through so many injuries.

“I’ve been through injuries as well, so I know how difficult it is,” Casey said. “I’m incredibly proud of what he has achieved on tour. He’s got so much more to achieve as well, so hopefully this is a start of many things.”

Another highlight of the week was a new $20 million clubhouse that is 40,000 square feet, which four times the size of the original facility. It drew rave reviews from players and fans as the latest major upgrade by the tournament. A $5 million state-of-the-art practice facility was built in 2014 that included a First Tee of Connecticut Learning Center and adjacent four-hole mini-course geared toward the more than 70,000 youngsters involved with the program. Two years ago, there were $3 million worth of course changes focused on the fairways and bunkers.