The Travelers Championship has a reputation for being a relatively easy respite after the U.S. Open.
Instead, it ended in a sudden-death playoff with a 44-year-old champion who had never won on the PGA Tour before.
The Travelers played to form this weekend at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., as the lead changed hands numerous times throughout the weekend.
Two who had never won before, Chris Stroud and Ken Duke, battled it out after scoring 12 under for the tournament with the journeyman Duke winning on the second hole of the playoff after knocking a short iron stiff.
At one point, six players shared the lead at 10 under on the last day, and 17 players were within three strokes of the lead. Among the group were two Masters champions, the past two Open winners, a player seeking redemption after last year’s debacle here and a slew of players looking for their first win this year.
Thrilling and delightful, here is a list of the winners and losers at the Travelers.
Oh, Bubba! What were you thinking?
With a one-stroke lead with just three holes to play on a course he had pretty much mastered over four days, Watson mishit his tee shot into the water on 16, knocked his next one over the green and ended with a triple bogey, taking himself out of the lead and out of contention.
He proceeded to berate his caddy in a classic Bubba meltdown.
Bubba had done a similar thing the day before, carding three bogeys in the last six holes and ending the day in a logjam with two other players at 10 under.
Bubba ended the day with an even par and a very uneven feeling.
Another player with a chance at his first win, 31-year-old Graham DeLaet was tied or near the lead for most of the tournament, ultimately finishing third.
Coming off of a back injury that led to a shortened 2012 season, the relatively unknown Canadian made a splash at the Travelers that included a score of 65 on Saturday, tying him for the low round of the day.
He played flawlessly throughout the weekend, and his final day left him just one back of the leaders at 69.
Truly one of golf’s marquee players, Lee Westwood shot seven over for the tournament and surely did not play up to his skill level.
Even though he shot a first round of 67, he was woefully inconsistent, ending with a 78 on the final day.
The 40-year-old Westwood surely has his sights sets on a major, so efforts like these have got to be tough to take.
He’ll have to do a lot better than this if he wants to make a run at the Open Championship.
In only his sixth appearance on the PGA Tour this season, the lithe lefty from Perth emerged from the shadows with three scores under par at the Travelers.
At one point, he was tied for the lead, and his solid iron play and clutch putting put him in a position to win.
Although his 74 on the last day erased that opportunity, O’Hern played calmly and confidently throughout, looking like a player to contend with down the road.
Charley Hoffman entered the Travelers with a chance at redemption.
It was only last year that he was one hole away from winning this tournament.
But his tee shot on the difficult par-four 17th hole at TPC River Highlands found the pond that runs along the fairway, and he finished second, missing out on his third PGA Tour win.
On Thursday, Hoffman started off with a brilliant, almost unconscious 61 and was in a three-way tie going into Sunday.
Unfortunately, he was unable to keep up the pace and dropped back to seventh with a two-over 72.
After his mediocre play at the U.S. Open, where he finished in a tie for 32nd place and was unable to defend his previous year’s title, Webb Simpson made a great comeback at the Travelers.
Carding two rounds of 65, one on the last day, he came within three strokes of tying the leaders.
Simpson had four top-10 finishes this season already and clearly understands what it means to play well on Sunday.
Everyone needs a day off once in a while.
With its sunny days and wide fairways, the TPC River Highlands sure looked like a fun place to play and a great place to blow off some steam after the grind at Merion. It’s nice to play a course where you can whip out the driver and pound it down the fairway without the fear of hitting into six-inch rough.
Sure, some, like Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker, are licking their wounds or just hanging poolside after last week’s tough play at the Open.
But you gotta hand it to Bubba, Hunter Mahan, Simpson, Rickie Fowler and others, and especially to Justin Rose, for coming out and giving it a go.
Chris Stroud led the field in scrambling this weekend, and it showed, as he made a brilliant putt off the 18th green that sent him into a sudden death playoff against Ken Duke.
Seeking his first professional win, Stroud kept on grinding, and even when it looked like he was out of the running, he found a way to tie for the lead.
Stroud was under par all four days and showed a deft stroke around the greens that was apparent in his bogey-less fourth round that included three birdies.
No question he made a lasting impression on his competition.
Zach Johnson is missing in action.
The former Masters champion is having a horrific season, having missed four cuts, including last week's Open and finishing in the top 10 only once.
The Travelers was no walk in the park for Johnson, who scored under par only once and finished a dismal 58th.
This is a course that should play to Johnson's strength off the tee and ability to shoot irons into benign greens. But it was not meant to be.
Although he won last year, he has yet to make a positive impact this season.
The Travelers is yet another he will want to forget.
Basking in the afterglow of last week’s win at the U.S. Open, Justin Rose drew much-deserved applause from the crowd at the Travelers.
At one point, he also threatened to repeat Ernie Els’ 1997 feat of winning the first event following an Open championship.
While that was not to be, the obviously proud Rose played very well, finishing six under par for the tournament.
Rose gets kudos for showing up and giving it his all.