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June 18, 2019

Travelers Championship to produce high-profile field, $68M economic impact

Photo | Travelers Championship The 15th hole at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.

More than half of the world’s top 30 professional golfers will compete at this week’s Travelers Championship tournament at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.

The 16 high-profile golfers are part of a 156-player field that will vie this weekend for the $1.26 million first-place share of the total $7.2 million tournament purse. 

Notable players include Brooks Koepka, the world’s top ranked golfer, Francesco Molinari (No. 6), Justin Thomas (No. 7), Jason Day (No. 18), three-time champion Bubba Watson (No. 22), two-time winner Phil Mickelson (No. 26) and 2017 tournament champion Jordan Speith (No. 29).

Gov. Ned Lamont and tournament organizers on Monday morning kicked off the week-long event, formerly known as the Greater Hartford Open (GHO) until 2007, which officials again expect to generate a $68 million economic impact for the state, according to a study by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center.

Since Travelers took over as title sponsor 13 years ago, the tournament, which donates all profits to charity, has raised almost $17 million for more than 750 nonprofit organizations throughout New England. That includes $2 million raised for 150-plus charities in 2018. Defending champion Bubba Watson last year contributed $200,000 in winnings to the tournament's primary nonprofit beneficiary, the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Ashford.

Although the tournament doesn’t announce attendance numbers, organizers on Monday night said they are on pace to exceed last year’s total based on early ticket sales. Several media outlets, however, estimate the tournament draws a few hundred thousand spectators annually.

The 17th hole at TPC River Highlands golf course in Cromwell is one of the top spots at The Travelers Championship where businesses entertain clients.

The Travelers Celebrity Pro-Am begins Wednesday with new and former participants including Ray Allen, Boomer Esiason, Boomer Esiason, Mark Teixeira, Dan Orlovsky, Jim Calhoun, George Lopez, Chris Berman, Doug Flutie and Tim Wakefield, among others. 

Andy Bessette, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Travelers Cos., on Monday said tournament organizers began developing new ideas for this year’s tournament immediately after last year’s event ended.

Among numerous new amenities this year, the tournament has a new private facility, dubbed as the Mohegan Sun Club, on the 17th fairway. The tournament also features a new Grey Goose sponsored event lawn with games, a bar and outdoor tables near the 18th hole. A new merchandise tent near the practice range was also added and several course and practice area improvements were made for the 68th annual tournament.

TPC River Highlands will also be showcasing its new $20 million, 40,000-square-foot clubhouse fixed with updated dining services and locker room facilities for players and their families.

The tournament for the last two years has received the “Players Choice” award, which is voted on by PGA Tour members based on their experiences with services, attendance, hospitality, player and family amenities, golf course conditions and other factors.

Concerts are slated for Friday and Saturday with American rock band Spin Doctors and Saturday with Country duo LOCASH, respectively.

Live tournament play will be broadcast on the Golf Channel from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. CBS will provide coverage from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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With big names playing in this year's Travelers Championship, tournament director Grube still sees room for growth

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