THE PROPER PERSPECTIVE AT THE TRAVELERS
Just ask Kevin Streelman, the winner of the 63rd Travelers Championship. He’ll tell you winning is easy, it’s just a matter of perspective.
Streelman set a course back nine record at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell with a 28, after telling his caddy he’d shoot a 29 as they headed to the 10th tee five strokes off the lead. What Streelman did in notching that 28 was nothing short of remarkable. It was all a matter of perspective. At the 12th green, after a couple of tough par saves at 10 and 11 to keep himself from falling completely out of contention, with Sergio Garcia, K.J. Choi and Aaron Baddeley swapping leads behind him on the course, Streelman had to regain some perspective as he battled to get vacation out of his mind. After four weeks on Tour with his wife and six month old daughter all he could think about was going home to Scottsdale, Arizona and doing some fishing. He stepped back from a birdie putt attempt on 12, shook the fishing trip out of his mind and drained the putt for bird. The march into the history books and his second trip to a PGA Tour winners circle was on. He set a Tour record with seven straight birds to finish the tournament at 15 under par, one stroke better than Garcia and Choi. All a matter of perspective.
Facing down a 37 foot birdie putt on the 16th green is nothing to man who six months ago was uncertain of the future, after learning, seven months into her pregnancy, his wife had a condition that called for a C-section the day after Christmas. Only someone who’s been on the recieving end of the message can know the feeling of being told every second counts, any delay could lead to the worst outcome. In the lives of Kevin and Courtney Streelman there was never a moment like the one that came with that first loud cry that told them their daughter, Sophie, had responded like a champion in her own right to the first challenge of her life. A 37 foot putt is nothing by comparison. It’s all a matter of perspective.
In the early stages of the final round Travelers chief operating officer Andy Besette stood in a box above the 18th green with a quiet smile of appreciation for the galleries that were forming to watch his tournament advance to the climactic stages. His is not an easy task, as he and tournament director Nathan Grube have made themselves among the most visible presences on the PGA Tour, week after week establishing relationships that annually pay off in the quality of their field on one of the toughest weeks of the Tour season, a week after the U-S Open. The 63rd edition attracted four of the top five golfers on the Fed Ex points list.
The marquee name, the one the Tour relies on to butter it’s own bread has never come. It’s all a matter of perspective to Andy Bessette. It’s not about Tiger Woods not being here, it’s about the golfers who show their appreciation for everything Travelers does for them and the Tour and do come.
More, however, it’s about 100% of the proceeds from his tournament going to Connecticut charities, it’s about everything being a part of the Travelers championship means. “It’s not just about giving money to those charities”, said Bessette, as he talked about the major league sporting event he, Grube and Travelers CEO Jay Fishman oversee every year, “It’s about helping those charities establish a profile, a legitimacy they take with them when they pursue other donors, who have now seen their names attached to that of the Travelers and the Travelers Championship.”
Every year Andy Bessette learns the same lesson his newest champion, Kevin Streelman, learned during a pleasant Sunday afternoon walk along the Connecticut River. Winning is easy, it’s all just a matter of perspective.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.