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The dog days of summer are upon us, and unfortunately, we’ve hit that part of the PGA Tour schedule where things feel dull. Keegan Bradley getting the job done at the Travelers Championship in his hometown-ish event was a cool scene, but nothing about last week felt ‘elevated.’ More on that later.
Rory McIlroy picked up a T-7 finish at the Travelers thanks to a 64 Sunday, but it was what he said about the golf course after his round that should be on the mind of golf fans.
Speaking of Top 10 finishes, Justin Thomas was able to secure a T-9 spot after his first consistent four-day stretch in quite some time.
We’ve hit that yearly lull when it comes to the PGA Tour calendar, but there’s still plenty to unpack.
Keegan Bradley Winning The Travelers Championship Was Absolute Scenes
The Travelers Championship is essentially the New England Open, and for the most New England guy on the PGA Tour in Keegan Bradley to hoist the trophy Sunday, you can’t help but smile.
After taking care of business in the first three rounds posting 62-63-64, Bradley was on a mission to find the winner’s circle, and thanks to a final round 68, he was able to do so.
You couldn’t describe the Travelers as appointment viewing, but Bradley earning the win in Connecticut was undoubtedly the storybook ending the week needed. Rory McIlroy could have shot a 59 Sunday to win the event, but that still wouldn’t have compared to Bradley getting the job done in front of the New England fans at a place he’s always wanted to win at.
Bradley won the tournament by three shots, yet celebrated as if he had just holed a 30-footer to win The Masters.
Throughout 72 holes the Travelers never felt like an elevated event, even with a sneaky solid leaderboard, but stories like Bradley winning a tournament so close to his heart is what makes golf so great.
It’s no secret that part of Bradley’s celebration included thoughts about this Fall’s Ryder Cup. The 37-year-old firmly finds himself on the U.S. team at the moment with the win and four other Top 10 finishes this season, which means he may finally get to unpack that suitcase from the 2012 Ryder Cup.
The early preview for this year’s Ryder Cup at Marco Simone just outside of Rome is that players need to be able to drive the golf ball. Bradley ranks 38th in strokes gained: off the tee and 46th in total driving. He could be a nice fit, whether he makes the squad automatically or via captain’s pick.
Rory McIlroy Reminds The World That The Golf Ball Goes Too Far
The announced merger between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) has rightfully dominated the golf world over the last few weeks. Given that nobody knows what the future of professional golf may look like, the talk of rolling back the golf ball had been silenced, but Rory McIlroy is ready to start those conversations again.
After his Top 10 finish at the Travelers, McIlroy spoke candidly about TPC River Highlands not being able to catch up with today’s technology.
“I don’t particularly like when a tournament is like this,” McIlroy said Sunday. “Unfortunately technology has passed this course by, right? It sort of has made it obsolete, especially as soft as it has been with a little bit of rain that we had.”
“So, again, like the conversations going back to, you know, limiting the golf ball and stuff like that, when we come to courses like this they just don’t present the challenge that they used to.”
McIlroy dipping his toes in the drama after taking a break from talking LIV Golf is an interesting decision, but that doesn’t make his comments untrue.
TPC River Highlands was a pitch and putt all week, hence the winning score being 23-under par. On the one hand, the course being so short allowed the likes of Zac Blair and Brian Harman to compete with the game’s biggest hitters, on the other hand, no elevated event should see players hit wedges into the majority of the greens.
Justin Thomas Seems To Have Found Something
This week was exactly what Justin Thomas needed. Once the calendar flipped to March, Thomas’ game took a dramatic hit having just one Top 10 and three missed cuts over the course of nine events.
Two of those missed cuts happened to be The Masters and the U.S. Open, and when you add that with a T-65 finish at the PGA Championship, it’s understandable that JT’s confidence has taken a hit over the last couple of months.
Thomas needed a solid week at one of the easiest golf courses on Tour, but needing a good week and actually posting numbers are different things.
He opened the tournament with a 70, and it felt like another ho-hum week was in store, but he was able to bounce back with a 64 on Friday before shooting a combined 11-under on the weekend.
It was only a matter of time before Thomas found something, with that something being confidence, and it’s tough to imagine his tank not being filled after his first Top 10 in seven starts.
What’s Next On The PGA Tour Slate Is Tough To Get Excited For
There are 38 PGA Tour events on the calendar for 2023 alone, one stretch on the schedule has to be the ‘boring’ period and we’re officially entering it. While the Travelers was technically an elevated event, the Tour wasn’t fooling anyone with that one, now we have a stretch of the Rocket Mortgage Classic and John Deere Classic before the Scottish Open.
The hardcore golf fan will still tune into the next two weekends of golf, but the casual fan will tune out as they always do.
There is no real takeaway here other than we’re in the thick of the schedule and hopefully, the Scottish Open followed by The Open will be here before we know it.
It’s good for us golf fans to suffer for a few weeks, because then we get rewarded with the Scottish and The Open, which should be incredibly fun to watch later next month.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris