Knox faces tough field in quest to defend his title at Travelers

Russell Knox celebrates winning the Travelers Championship in 2016. (Photo courtesy Travelers Championship)

CROMWELL, June 20 – Five of the top 15 golfers in the world are in Cromwell this week for the Travelers Championship including No. 3 Rory McIlroy and No. 4 Jason Day. Jordan Spieth (6) and Justin Thomas (12) are each in the top 15. Paul Casey is 16th and Patrick Reed is 17th.

“Whoever wins this week is going to have to earn it,” defending tournament champion Russell Knox said Tuesday. “He’s going to have to play incredible golf because those guys that I named, I mean, they’re capable of shooting unbelievable scores. So whoever wins this week is going to truly deserve to be the champ.”

Knox won the Travelers for the first time last August with a 12-foot putt on the final hole to save par and beat former University of Hartford golfer Jerry Kelly by one stroke. The Scottish golfer earned his second-ever PGA win with a 2-under 68. It was just his sixth start on the PGA Tour.

“It’s obviously amazing to come back to a place where you’ve won,” Knox said. “I mean, there are so many great memories. I got to come back for the media day a few months ago and relive the putt I made on the last hole, so that was cool.

“It’s always special to come back to a place I’d won. Though I’ve only done it twice, I sure would like to get used to it more often. But everybody at the Travelers treat me and all the players and everybody so well, so it’s definitely a special place to come back to.”

Knox is hoping for a little Hartford magic this week. He missed the cut at last week’s U.S. Open and comes into the tournament ranked 41st in the world. He has missed the cut in six of 14 tournaments and hasn’t finished in the top 10 this year.

“I’m excited to be here, and hopefully this year the Travelers Championship can get me going a good kick start to a big summer,” he said.

On the final Sunday of the tournament a year ago, Jim Furyk had a tour-record 58 on Sunday with 10 birdies and an eagle, nearly overshadowing Knox’s win.

“This is one of my favorite courses on the PGA Tour,” Knox said. “A lot of guys, not just me, I think the last nine holes here at TPC River Highlands is as good as it gets. I mean, anything can happen here. You can shoot 6- or 7-under. But on the flip side, anything can happen which makes this course very exciting.

Thursday’s tee times 

Wednesday’s Celebrity Pro-Am tee times

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)

THE COURSE: TPC River Highlands, 6,841 yards, par 70. The No. 15-17 holes play around a four-acre lake, helping create a finish considered among the most thrilling on the tour.

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