CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) _ Five more young golfers have committed to
playing in this year’s Travelers Championship, which is gaining a
reputation as a good tournament for new talent to break through on
the PGA Tour.

Master’s champion Bubba Watson (2010), Hunter Mahan (2007) and
J.J. Henry (2006) are among the golfers who have earned their first
Tour win at the Connecticut tournament.

Travelers announced Tuesday that the two top amateurs in the
world, Patrick Cantlay and Patrick Rodgers have been granted
exemptions to play in the June tournament, along with Ryo Ishikawa,
Kelly Kraft, and Bryden Macpherson, the top amateur in Britain.

“We try to be strategic with our exemptions,” tournament
director Nathan Grube said. “We try to think, where is the next
Bubba Watson? Where is the next Phil Mickelson, the next Tiger
Woods? They’re out there. They are looking for starts and building
a relationship with them is something we take very, very

The tournament is played June 18-24, the week after the U.S.

Fredrik Jacboson, earned his first Tour victory at Travelers
last year. He said his doesn’t know why it has been such a good
tournament for producing first-time champions, but he thinks it
might have something to do with its spot on the schedule.

“With the big scene that it is on a major and all the attention
… you’re used to all the media and the hype,” he said. “So it
almost feels a little bit relaxing to go back to a regular PGA Tour
event. So you come back from an extreme to normal, which makes
normal feel even less. I think maybe that takes a little bit of
pressure off.”

Grube said the tournament’s strategy of courting up-and-coming
golfers has paid off as those golfers’ careers have progressed and
they have remained loyal to The Travelers.

Watson, Mahan, Henry and Jacobson have already committed to
returning this year.

“These past champions, the fans take them very personal here,”
Grube said. “They remember and these are their champions. This is
our champion. So, when you have your champion go on and do
something as special Bubba did, people took that personal here.
People were very excited and he’s excited about coming here. This
is a special place for him.”

Many top golfers traditionally take a break the week after a
major, which also makes building relationships important for Grube.

He also has early commitments this year from other top names
such as Anthony Kim, Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington and Webb

But Grube said he knows many people will come to the tournament
hoping to find tomorrow’s stars, such as Cantlay, who set an
amateur record by shooting a 60 during the first round of last
year’s Travelers.

“Patrick Rodgers, he’s a freshman at Stanford, and the No. 2
amateur in the world, and he’s got a great track record,” Grube
said. “He’s a guy who could come out and do it. Ishikawa’s the
only player to shoot a 58 in a professional event, and he could do

“There’s lots of great storylines with our exemptions that we
are excited about.”


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