Sports

Former Stanford Stars Making Pro Debuts

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Photo Credit: Rogash/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Rogash/Getty Images

By PAT EATON-ROBB
Associated Press

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) _ Cameron Wilson and Patrick Rodgers say it is fitting that after sharing the amateur spotlight at Stanford they should both be making their professional debuts this week at the Travelers Championship.

Rodgers won six college tournaments this year and the Jack Nicholas award as the nation’s top college player. Wilson won this year’s NCAA individual title. Both are hoping to earn their PGA Tour cards this summer playing with sponsor exemptions.

They say it is s a coincidence they both are beginning that process at TPC River Highlands on Thursday.

“Cam and I have an unbelievable relationship, obviously,” Rodgers said. “To be starting my career and us both to be here together is a really awesome part of this whole experience.”

Both have links to the Connecticut Tour stop. Wilson grew up in nearby Norwalk, and was a spectator here as a young boy. Rodgers played the tournament two years ago as an amateur.

Each credited the other with helping push their games to the professional level.

“I’m sure it will good to know somebody else out here on Tour and have somebody not rooting against me every week,” Wilson said.

Here are five other things to watch as the tournament gets underway:

FIRST TIME WINNERS: The winners of this tournament in six of the past eight years earned their first PGA Tour victory in Cromwell. Ken Duke won last season in his 187th career start. He joined J.J. Henry (2006), Hunter Mahan (2007), Bubba Watson (2010), Fredrik Jacobsen (2011) and Marc Leishman as players who broke through at TPC River Highlands.

STRONG FIELD: The tournament features four of top eight players in the world (No. 3 Watson, No. 5 Matt Kuchar, No. 7 Jason Day, and No. 8 Sergio Garcia) and 16 of the top 50. Eighty-two players in the 156-player field have won at least one PGA Tour event.

BIRD WATCHING: The winning score over the past decade has been just under 15-under 265 on the par-70 course, and players say that is part of the attraction of this tournament.

“It’s a really nice change of pace coming off the U.S. Open,” Keegan Bradley said. “I think going from really hard to making a lot of birdies is actually easier. I felt like in the past, it’s helped me make a bunch of birdies here, because it’s such a relief.”

DALY BACK: Fan favorite John Daly was not originally in the field, but was added this week after Neal Lancaster withdrew from the tournament. Daly has played the Connecticut event 12 times. His best finish came in 1997 when he finished 21st. He missed the cut last year.

WATSON’S CADDIE: Bubba Watson says the much-publicized confrontation between himself and caddie Ted Scott at last year’s tournament was overblown. Watson was caught by microphones harshly criticizing Scott for his club suggestion after hitting a shot into the water on the 16th hole during the final round. His triple bogey on the hole dropped him from the lead and ended his hopes of a victory. Watson said he and Scott have been together for nine years, have a good relationship and “He forgave me, and I told him I looked like a jerk, and I shouldn’t have done that,” Watson said.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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