The Travelers Championship: The history behind one of the most attended PGA Tour events

Timothy Bryce
Subscriber

Now that the spectacle known as the U.S. Open has drawn to a close, the golf world moves on. Next up for the PGA Tour is the Travelers Championship, one of the more popular non-big name tournaments, and the second-most attended PGA Tour event every year, behind only the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The Travelers Championship began in 1952 as the Insurance City Open. The original winner was 33-year-old Ted Kroll, a World War II veteran who won with a score of -11 to par. Kroll was an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour and was its leading money winner in 1956.

Over the years the event has changed it’s name on several occasions. In 1957, the tournament became known as the Insurance City Open Invitational. In 1967 the name of the event was changed to the Greater Hartford Open Invitational. In 1973 Sammy Davis Jr.’s name was thrown onto the front of the previous name, and remained there until 1988. In 2004 the event changed it’s name to the Buick Championship for a short three-run before renaming it to the Travelers Championship in 2007.

The Travelers Championship is located in Hartford, Connecticut, and has been played at two different courses in its history. For the first 32 years, it was played at Wethersfield County Club, about five miles north of Hartford. In 1984 it was moved to the re-designed, done by the great course designer Pete Dye, TPC of Connecticut, which in 1989 changed it’s name to TPC River Highlands.

Over the years many notable names have won this event. Arnold Palmer twice, Sam Snead, Billy Casper four times, Ken Venturi, Curtis Strange, Peter Jacobsen, Paul Azinger, Phil Mickelson, and Bubba Watson.

The record for the lowest score to par in the history of the event is held by Tim Norris, who back in 1982 set the record at -25 to par. The record for the lowest score overall is held by Kenny Perry, who in 2009 fired a total four-round score of 258, -22 to par. This year’s field includes several names who will be looking to shake off a poor U.S. Open performance, such as Bubba Watson, who should be the favorite heading into the event.

It is always interesting to keep an eye on these lower-tier events, you never know what young name is going to break through, win his first event, and use it as a launching pad for the rest of his career. Or a top player could make a run towards more FedExCup points.. the possibilities are endless.