As the scores kept going lower and lower at Erin Hills, more than one observer suggested the U.S. Open looked more like the Travelers Championship.
There is one big difference.
The Travelers Championship might have more top-10 players on the weekend.
Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, now No. 3 and No. 4 in the world, are part of a field that is stronger than usual at the TPC River Highlands. Both had the weekend off at the U.S. Open. Joining them at the Travelers Championship are Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
McIlroy has played only seven times this year because of a rib injury, so he’s gearing up for a busy summer schedule. There’s also that matter of a new PGA Tour regulation that requires players who had fewer than 25 tournaments last season to play somewhere they haven’t been in four years. Ditto for Spieth.
For all of them, the Travelers typically is a good way to wind down.
This was only the third time in U.S. Open history that the winner finished at double digits under par. For the Travelers, the last time a winner finished in single digits under par was Nick Price. That was in 1993, the year Spieth and Thomas were born.
The LPGA Tour heads to Arkansas for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, where Stacy Lewis is celebrating the wrong kind of anniversary. That was her most recent victory on the LPGA Tour, but it was three years ago.
The European Tour is in Germany for the BMW International Open, when Henrik Stenson as the defending champion. Stenson pulled out of the U.S. Open on Friday last year with neck pain, then won the following week in Germany. He pulled out of the U.S. Open on Friday this year, but that was because of his score. He missed the cut.
Also on tap is the American Family Insurance Classic, hosted by Steve Stricker, who this year finally gets to play because he’s 50.
If not for Russell Knox throwing his hat at a speed that would make Aroldis Chapman proud, he might be the forgotten defending champion.
Jim Furyk captured most of the headlines last year by becoming the first player in PGA Tour history to post a 58 , and he did it with a par on the final hole. Alas, all that got him was a tie for fifth, but his name in the record book is quite the consolation. Furyk now is the only player to post two sub-60 rounds on the PGA Tour.
Knox, meanwhile, wasn’t throwing his hat for attention. He was so pumped by making that par putt to win because he thought for sure that would lock up a spot on Europe’s Ryder Cup team. Turns out, European captain Darren Clarke overlooked him.
Knox is no less proud of his achievement. And the Scot has a sense of humor on the dry side.
Chris Berman of ESPN usually helps to present the trophy, though he missed out on the honor last year. So when Boomer ran into Knox at the Deutsche Bank Championship, he came over to apologize for not being there and praise Knox for winning a trophy that had some of the biggest names in golf on it.
Sam Snead. Arnold Palmer. Billy Casper. Lee Trevino. Curtis Strange.
“Ken Duke,” Knox interjected.
“I love Ken Duke,” Knox said later. “We play a lot of practice rounds together.”
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3-6 p.m. (CBS Sports).
A victory by Lewis or Lydia Ko would be historic, and not just because both are facing alarming victory droughts. While it’s been three full years for Lewis, Ko is the defending champion and is coming up on the one-year anniversary of her last LPGA Tour victory.
She has given up the No. 1 ranking to Ariya Jutanugarn, who isn’t playing this week.
The history at stake is the parity on the LPGA Tour. There have been 15 tournaments this year. There have been 15 winners. Only eight of this year’s LPGA Tour winners are at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, so the streak ends if one of them win — Brittany Lincicome, Amy Yang, Inbee Park Anna Nordqvist, Mirim Lee, So Yeon Ryu, Haru Nomura and Sei Young Kim,
The last time an LPGA season started with 15 different winners was in 1991. Jane Geddes ended the streak at the Atlantic City Classic.
Television: Friday, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 5-7 p.m. (Golf Channel).
The BMW International Open has the only major champions from the last two years in its field. That would be Stenson and Sergio Garcia. Stenson credits his victory in Germany last year for helping him win at Royal Troon . Garcia is making his first start in Europe since winning the Masters .
Television: Thursday-Friday, 5:30-7 a.m., 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 6:30-11 a.m. (Golf Channel).
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
Remember when Steve Stricker said at the start of 2013 that he was going to cut back on his schedule and become a part-time player? Plans change when the children get older (Bobbi Maria just finished her freshman year at Wisconsin) and tournaments become family outings.
Stricker, coming off a tie for 16th at the U.S. Open, plays a second straight week in Wisconsin as the tournament host. This is his 13th tournament of the year (fifth on the PGA Tour Champions), and it’s still not even July.
Television: Friday, 12:30-3 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 3-5 p.m. (Golf Channel).