Several years ago he was known as the Bashful Prince, a talented teenage golfer who stormed to the summit of fame in his native Japan and delighted fans everywhere with his sweet, shy smile.
Ryo Ishikawa played his first PGA Tour events in 2009. Trailed by a constant crowd of Japanese journalists, his abilities impressed many as he lit up the fairways with a whimsical candy-colored wardrobe.
Expectations for the precocious phenom were stratospheric. By the Spring of 2010 more than a few golf scribes were looking for one of golf's alliterative young guns… Rory, Rickie or Ryo… to quickly become that mythical entity known as "the next Tiger". In retrospect those predictions seem somewhat silly; here we are in waning months of 2013 and Tiger's just captured both the PGA of America's Player of the Year Award and the Vardon Trophy… for the 11th and 9th time, respectively. Even the most committed Tiger detractors seem to accept that we probably won't see "the next Tiger" any time in the forseeable future. Ever.
For over fifty years the PGA Tour has come to the Hartford area for this annual event. It brings together sports fans of all stripes for a celebratory week of activities; a week that transcends the game and touches the lives of many. The Travelers Championship is Connecticut’s largest professional sporting event and as the infographic above illustrates, 100% of the proceeds go to local charities.
For 2013, Travelers Championship week will run from Monday, June 17th thru Sunday, June 23, and the field is getting deeper by the day, with commitments coming in yesterday from Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Fredrik Jacobson and Padraig Harrington.
And… the tournament’s world class Cromwell venue, TPC River Highlands, is right on schedule to receive the PGA Tour stars. We played there yesterday as part of the Travelers Championship media day, and though our team was less than impressive on the fairways and greens, conditions were great, and all the elements that make the Travelers Championship so compelling to watch (the natural amphitheaters, the many greenside bunkers, the spectacular finishing holes ) also make the course fun… and challenging… to play.
Tickets for the Travelers Championship are available on the event website and you can get the latest news leading up to the tournament by following the Travelers Championship on Facebook and Twitter.
Photograph by: Jim Rogash , Getty Images via leaderpost.com
To ardent golf observers, it sometimes seems that Rory McIlroy’s been around for ages.
We watched his cherubic traits take on the more angular edge of adulthood as his game evolved into something so impressive as to leave us with little doubt we’d be watching an Ulsterman golfer on Sunday afternoons for years to come.
There were, in fact, periods of mental malaise, the most recent of which came earlier this summer with a string of missed cuts, but as the summer waned, McIlroy staged an assertive comeback, winning the 2012 PGA Championship by a record eight shots and displaying an astonishing consistency on the greens. Yesterday it was the Deutsche Bank Championship and a follow-up win that had more than a few golf writers celebrating the dawning of the McIlroy era. Tiger Woods shot a 66 yesterday to finish two strokes back in third while third round leader Louis Oosthuizen settled for second. Not surprisingly others saw yesterday’s outcome from a slightly different perspective calling it the end of the Tiger era.
Meanwhile for hopeful golf fans the world over, yesterday’s outcome signaled the tantalizing possibility of golf’s next great rivalry.
For now however, I’ll leave you with a few Rory stories from the past …stories I posted during the rapid ascent of Mr. McIlroy.
A year ago at the same tournament, the affable Swede presented the same 36 hole total (-9) …and went on to capture his first PGA Tour win. Positive outcome indeed. Our Connecticut climate, however, is not being nearly so consistent as Mr. Jacobson. It’s been sweltering in the nutmeg state for the past several days, and today’s thunders storms have twice caused play to be suspended. The good news is that those same storms are going to have a cooling effect and are expected to produce some stellar (and much less steamy) weekend weather.
At the Travelers Celebrity ProAm on Wednesday, in the aforementioned heat and humidity, I watched Fredrik Jacobson greet fans and sign autographs in the afternoon sun… with a consistent smile. Fan-friendliness is another area where the soft-spoken Swedish player seems to shine.
A number of players (77) will complete their second rounds tomorrow morning. Only then will moving day actually begin. Phil Mickelson is the only player who’s ever successfully defended a win at this event (2002)… over the next couple of days we’ll see if Fredrik Jacobson can keep up the consistency and become the second.