Until Friday, the 2017 Travelers Championship in Cromwell probably was remembered for the way it ended, the sight of Jordan Spieth, barely visible over the lip of the bunker, sinking one of the most incredible shots of the season to win the tournament.
It was the culmination of perhaps the greatest week in the tournament’s 66-year history, a gallery estimated at 100,000 looking on from all corners of a course which had received rave reviews from the golfers who were playing on it.
As it turned out, the people of Connecticut weren’t the only ones who noticed. The 2017 Travelers has been honored as the PGA Tour’s tournament of the year. The event was just one of many honored for excellence by the organization.
“On behalf of the PGA Tour, I am pleased to congratulate these tournaments for being named the best among their peers on tour,” PGA executive vice president and Chief Tournaments and Competitions Officer Andy Pazder said in a statement. “The respective tournament committees worked tirelessly on new and innovative ways of improving the tournament experience and these awards are a testament to those efforts.”
The Travelers also was awarded for being “most fan-friendly,” “best sales” and the “players choice.”
The crowds for the June weekend were estimated at close to 300,000 according to police, and money raised for charity reached $1.72 million.
“We are incredibly honored and humbled to be named ‘Tournament of the Year,’ which reflects the selfless work by our volunteers and the support of the TOUR, its players, our sponsors and fans,” Travelers Championship Tournament Director Nathan Grube said in a statement. “What took place at TPC River Highlands this year will go down as one of the most exciting in tournament history. We’d like to congratulate all the other tournaments that helped make the PGA TOUR season so unforgettable.”
Several golfers, including Spieth and Rory McIlroy, originally said they agreed to play in the Travelers simply to fill holes in their schedule. But after walking the 72 holes, both changed their opinions.
“This is one of the best courses on tour,” McIlroy said in June. “It’s a par 70. It’s fun. You can make a lot of birdies. But if you put yourself in the wrong spot, you can make bogeys pretty quickly as well.
“The crowd out there, I teed off before 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and they were really good. It was a pleasure to be here this week. It was great to play in front of such great crowd.”
Spieth said during the championship presentation he intends to return to defend his title, while McIlroy expressed interest in returning. Next year’s event is scheduled for June 21-24.
Spieth’s winning shot, ending a playoff with Daniel Berger, turned the tournament into a national highlight reel for a few days after it had ended.
The shot from the right bunker hit the green and rolled straight to the center of the cup. Spieth celebrated by throwing his sand wedge and chest-bumping caddie Michael Greller.
“It was a joke how big the crowd on 18 was,” Greller said.
“I mean, the ground was shaking,” Spieth said. “I jumped up and saw it [ball]coming right down on the pin,” he said of his final shot. “And I went nuts. That was fun.”
The tournament wasn’t over, however, until Berger missed a birdie putt from about 50 feet from the left front portion of the green.
Spieth earned the $1.22 million first-place prize and was the third player to lead wire-to-wire and win the championship, joining Gene Littler in 1959 and Tim Norris in 1982. The victory for Spieth, 23, was the 10th of his career. The only other player to have done that by age 24 was Tiger Woods.
The victory happened after Spieth (even-par 70) and Berger (67) tied at the end of regulation at 12-under 268.
“What a tremendous last four holes, finishing holes, where you can get the crowd super involved with an amphitheater setting,” Spieth said. “I mean, if I were a fan, I would pick this tournament. This one and Phoenix [Waste Management Open] is kind of two that stick out to come to on the PGA season, just given the excitement of the closing holes.”