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Friday, June 13, 2014

Watney, Villegas, Toms late additions to Travelers field



Former PGA Tour winners Nick Watney (above), Camilo Villegas, David Toms were among the golfers committing to the Travelers Championship at Friday’s evening deadline.

They are added to arguably the best field Travelers has had since taking over title sponsorship in 2007. The field had six of the world’s top 15 players in the current rankings: Bubba Watson (3), Matt Kuchar (5), Jason Day (7), Sergio Garcia (8), Zach Johnson (14) and Dustin Johnson (15).

“We had some great pickups late to add to one of the strongest fields we’ve had, if not the strongest,” Travelers tournament director Nathan Grube said. “Getting guys to commit really early is very beneficial for us to be able to promote and market them.”

The tournament begins Thursday at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell.

The most notable withdrawals were two-time champion Stewart Cink (1997, 2008) and 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir.

Former major championship winners in the field include: Keegan Bradley (2011 PGA), Angel Cabrera (2007 U.S. Open, 2009 Masters), Retief Goosen (2001 and 2004 U.S. Opens), Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters), Louis Oosthuizen (2010 British Open), Vijay Singh (2000 Masters, 1998 and 2004 PGA), Toms (2001 PGA) and Y.E. Yang (2009 PGA).

Former champions in the field are: J.J. Henry (2006), Hunter Mahan (2007), Bubba Watson (2010), Freddie Jacobson (2011), Marc Leishman (2012) and defending champion Ken Duke.

Four of Travelers eight exemptions went to amateurs who will turn pro at the tournament. Patrick Rodgers, the No. 1 amateur in the world from Stanford University, missed the cut in 2012 at the Travelers. He is skipping his senior year at Stanford.

Rodgers’ college teammate, Cameron Wilson, hails from Rowaynton, won the NCAA Division I individual championship in May and missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Oliver Goss is turning pro after just two years at Tennessee. He was the low amateur at the Masters in April. The last amateur, Bobby Wyatt, helped lead Alabama to its second straight NCAA Division I team title.

The other three sponsors exemptions went to tour pros Tim Petrovic, who played at the University of Hartford, Billy Mayfair and Vaughn Taylor.

“We really have a good crop of four amateurs,” Grube said. “We also wanted to give exemptions to three guys who have played us every year since Travelers took over (title sponsorship) in 2007. Travelers wanted to say ‘Thank you’ to those guys.”

Two notable alternates awaiting withdrawals this week are former major championship winners David Duval and John Daly, who Grube said did request a sponsor’s exemption.

The final four spots in the field will be determined at a qualifier Monday at the Black Hall Club in Old Lyme.

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