|Travelers says Rose plans to play in Connecticut|
|Monday, June 17, 2013 9:23 PM|
CROMWELL, Conn. — U.S. Open champion Justin Rose has no plans to take any time off after winning his first major championship.
Nathan Grube, the tournament director at the Travelers Championship, said Rose’s wife, Kate, called shortly after he won his first major title, to confirm they would be in Connecticut for this week’s tournament.
“She called last night at about 9:30 and I looked down at the phone and said, ‘This is either going to be a really good call or a really bad call’,” Grube recalled Monday. “It was fine. She said, ‘We’re coming; we’re just trying to rearrange our schedule a little bit because of all the media (commitments)’.”
Rose, who rose from fifth to third in the current world rankings with his win at Merion, is in a field that includes just five other top-20 players: Lee Westwood (12), Keegan Bradley (14), Jason Dufner (17), Ian Poulter (18) and Bubba Watson (19).
Web Simpson (21) also is playing a year after he, too, won the U.S. Open and kept his commitment to play in Cromwell.
The Travelers held its opening ceremony on Monday morning, marking the 61st straight year the PGA Tour has visited greater Hartford and the seventh under its current name.
Andy Bessette, the chief administrative officer and executive vice president of the insurance giant, said the company is in negotiations to remain the title sponsor of the Connecticut PGA stop, and expects to finalize a deal before the end of this summer.
“As long they want us, we’re going to figure out how to make this work and get this done before September 30th,” Bessette said.
The company took over the title sponsorship in 2006, after the tournament had been eliminated from the 2007 PGA schedule because of a lack of a sponsor.
The TPC River Highlands was set to become a Champions Tour stop, when another tournament dropped out of the PGA schedule, opening a window for Hartford. Travelers agreed to help get the event back in the PGA mix and Bessette added it turned out to be a great move for the company and the region.
“We’re only one of five community-based sponsors on the Tour, five out of 45,” he said. “So to be a hometown sponsor and do good for the community, give back to charity, it’s critical.”
Travelers also has committed to fund a special program that the tournament and PGA plan to run in Newtown, Conn., site of the December massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Grube and Bessette agreed.
The tournament will provide golf lessons in the town’s elementary schools and through summer camps as part of the First Tee program, a youth development organization designed to teach values such as honesty and integrity through the sport.
“There were a lot of ideas on the table,” Grube added. “This was something the town told us would help in healing process. We’re doing some other things but the town has asked that we keep those off the radar.”
The golf tournament begins Wednesday with the annual pro-am and in a new twist this year, a celebrity mini-golf pro-am.
Actors Alec Baldwin and CJ Adams, former UConn basketball players and WWE stars are among those scheduled to participate.
Solheim Cup to donate to firefighters
PARKER, Colo. — Never afraid to let a tear or two drop, U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon did, indeed, get choked up when asked about the fundraising effort the tournament is organizing for firefighters battling blazes close to the golf course.
She wasn’t nearly as warm and fuzzy while discussing how she’ll choose the last two members of her team.
With the Solheim Cup only two months away, Mallon said she sent an e-mail to the top 30 players in contention for the 12 spots on the team that will compete against Europe at Colorado Golf Club from Aug. 16-18. Ten of those spots will be earned based on rankings; Mallon will make the last two picks.
“I played on eight teams and I was never a pick, I made it on my own points,” Mallon said. “So, I told the players, ‘I have no sympathy for you if you don’t make the team.’ I said, ‘Don’t expect to make the team if you don’t make it on points’.”
That said, Mallon will still have to pick two players after the British Open, which ends Aug. 4.
“The ideal scenario is someone with experience in Solheim Cups and who is playing really well,” Mallon said. “You’ve got to take into consideration the golf course, take into consideration being at home. You’ve got to look at players who can handle those situations, look for that special player who embraces this event and can handle it.”
Mallon was in town after a weekend of practice in Parker, where players could smell smoke wafting over from the devastating Colorado wildfires to the south.
Cup organizers announced that 15 percent of the cost of all tickets sold this month on the Solheim Cup website — www.solheimcup.com — will go toward the Colorado Professional Firefighters Association.
Located about 20 miles south of the Solheim Cup course, the Black Forest fire has destroyed nearly 500 houses and covered 22 square miles. It was 65 percent contained as of Monday.
“Tournaments give a lot to charity but when you have something like this happen in the state of Colorado and you’re so close to it and you have a chance to do something,” Mallon explained. “What the people have gone through the last two weeks, this is our opportunity to say to you, ‘We just want to help.’ It got me all choked up. I’m proud to have the opportunity to do that.”
The players have reached the heart of the LPGA schedule, with three majors in the span of six tournaments, including the U.S. Open at Sebonack, beginning June 27. Majors are worth double points in the Solheim Cup standings. The top eight on the list will earn automatic spots on the team, along with the next two highest-ranked players from the Rolex rankings.
Mallon will pick the final two spots.
Firmly cemented on the team is Stacy Lewis, whose 783.50 points is more than 300 ahead of second-place Cristie Kerr.
Those on the bubble include Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie, who are ranked 10th and 12th, respectively, on the Solheim Cup points list.
The U.S. is looking to regain the cup after losing 15-13 to the Europeans at Killeen Castle in 2011.
Mallon, a 4-time major champion, has a 13-9-7 record in her eight Solheim Cup appearances. This is her first stint as captain.