June 24, 2015 - 10:42am
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T.J. Auclair
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Brandt Snedeker
USA Today Sports Images
Brandt Snedeker has finished in the top 10 in each of his last three starts on the PGA Tour, including an eighth-place showing last week in the U.S. Open.

After a thrilling U.S. Open in the Pacific Northwest, the PGA Tour travels cross-country to the east coast for this week's Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

Kevin Streelman returns as the defending champion to one of the most well-attended events on Tour dating back to 1952.

RELATED: Travelers Championship tee times | Open Championship spots on the line at Travelers

Birdies and eagles will be much easier to come by at TPC River Highlands than what we saw over the weekend at Chambers Bay. Heck, sometimes four rounds in the 60s won't even earn a player a top-30 finish -- just ask Freddie Jacobson. He tied for 31st a year ago with rounds of 69-69-69-67. Players need to take it deep at the Travelers, which is why it's so much fun for fans to watch.

With all that, here are the five players to keep an eye on this week.

5. Marc Leishman
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T5 at the Memorial
Reason to watch: The Aussie has three top-10 finishes this season and is a former winner in Cromwell. His T5 at the Memorial at the start of the month was his best finish of the season, one in which he made a decision to take a pass on the Masters and missed over a month of action while tending to his then very sick wife, who nearly died (since then, she has recovered). I think Leishman is in the midst of kick-starting his season. Sure, he missed the cut last week at Chambers Bay, but so did a lot of the bigger names. He'll be much more comfortable at TPC River Highlands.

4. Hunter Mahan
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T3 at the Frys.com Open
Reason to watch: Outside of that T3 at the Frys.com Open way back in October, it's been a relatively quiet season for Mahan. He did collect back-to-back T9s in the Masters and the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship, but hasn't done much else. I think we'll see that all change this week at TPC River Highlands at a tournament he won in 2007, was a runner-up in in 2008 and had a T4 in 2009. That's a solid three-year run. Mahan is one of those players who can string along tons of birdies, which is why this course suits him so well.

3. Kevin Streelman
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Second at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: You'd be hard-pressed to find a player more excited to be in Cromwell this week than Streelman. The tournament's defending champion, the Travelers Championship was also Streelman's second career win and second in as many years. Players on the Tour take great pride in stringing together seasons that include a win. Streelman is looking to make it three consecutive seasons as a winner. While there's still plenty of time left for him to accomplish that, this week figures to be one where he's got to be licking his chops.

2. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the WGC-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Hard to believe, but it was only five years ago that Bubba Watson snagged his maiden PGA Tour win at the Travelers Championship. My, how things have changed since then. The long-hitting lefty is now a two-time Masters champ and has also collected wins on two other classic PGA Tour courses -- Torrey Pines and Riviera. Bubba has cooled off a touch since a blistering start to the season and his missed cut at the U.S. Open last week was his first MC of the year. I think he'll atone for that this week just outside Hartford, where -- along with the win -- he also has a T2 and a fourth-place showing.

1. Brandt Snedeker
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Reason to watch: Snedeker is enjoying a fine 2014-15 season -- one that includes seven top-10 finishes in 18 starts, including the last three in a row (T2 at Colonial, T6 at Byron Nelson and eighth at the U.S. Open, thanks to a hard-charging, 2-under 68 in the final round). Snedeker is the type of player who can be a force when the putter is hot. And, as we've seen so far this season, it's been hot quite a bit.

Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the U.S. Open:

5. Ernie Els -- T54
4. Rickie Fowler -- Missed cut
3. Rory McIlroy -- T9
2. Jordan Spieth -- Won
1. Phil Mickelson -- T64 

5 players to watch at the Travelers
Jordan Spieth
USA Today Sports Images
Winning this trophy on Sunday led Jordan Spieth to create the pair of Instagram posts below.
 
At this point, I don't have much to add to everything that's been said and written about Jordan Spieth's victory at the U.S. Open on Sunday. But he posted a photo on Instagram earlier today that is pretty darn cool – his U.S. Open trophy and his green jacket getting acquainted.
 
 
And below that is a cool Instagram video he shared of his name being engraved on the trophy. What an unforgettable few days it's been for golf's newest superstar.
 
 

This was a nice introduction last night! Dream come true

A photo posted by Jordan Spieth (@jordanspieth) on

 
 

Really a cool moment last night! Incredible teamwork to make this possible. Unforgettable Fathers Day with dad!

A video posted by Jordan Spieth (@jordanspieth) on

 
Jordan Spieth's U.S. Open trophy meets his green jacket
June 23, 2015 - 11:09am
mark.aumann's picture
Lenexa sinkhole
Associated Press/YouTube
A large hole has consumed a large portion of the 13th fairway of Canyon Farms Golf Club.

Heavy rains this month are being blamed for a massive sinkhole that appeared on a golf course in Lenexa, Kan., over the weekend. But that hasn't stopped the course from being in business -- or golfers from playing that hole. Workers at Canyon Farms Golf Club arrived to find a large portion of the 13th fairway missing. Or rather, down in a sinkhole. How big? The hole is estimated to be about 10 feet in depth, and from the aerial videos taken, the grass is still in place. According to story from KMBC-TV in Kansas City, the course was built over a vacated limestone mine, which may offer some explanation why the ground gave way so suddenly. Course workers have placed fences and barriers around the affected area -- and the teeing ground has been moved up to the other side of the sinkhole, allowing the hole to be played as a shorter par-4. You can view the news video from the Associated Press here. Still photos don't do this hole in the ground enough justice. It's definitely not the first time -- or will be the last -- that sinkholes have created havoc for golfers. Just this year, a sinkhole created a massive hole at Top of the Rock/Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Mo. And another one made a mess of this Scottish course.

Sinkhole creates new course hazard
June 23, 2015 - 9:40am
mark.aumann's picture
Shattered trophy
Anna Nordqvist/Twitter
Anna Nordqvist with the LPGA ShopRite Classic trophy before ... and after.

Golf trophies come in all manner of shapes and sizes. Sculpted metal cups, ornate wood or even glass vases, like the one Anna Nordqvist won recently at the LPGA ShopRite Classic.

Most of the time, they arrive home safely. But that wasn't the case for Nordqvist.

Imagine her shock and dismay when she opened the cardboard box containing her beautiful glass trophy, only to find a pile of shattered glass shards.

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Once she got over her initial reaction, her comments on social media were quite humorous, as evidenced by this tweet:

 

 

Thankfully, there's a happy ending to the story. The shipper and tournament are working to replace Nordqvist's trophy -- and hopefully get it to her in one piece this time.

 

 

It's amazing in a way that there aren't more problems with trophies, especially crystal. Last year, Hunter Mahan's crystal vase snapped in two while he was placing it down for photographs.

But even big metal trophies can have issues. On Sunday, the top came off Jordan Spieth's U.S. Open Championship trophy while he was posing for photos. Last summer, Rory McIlroy made a quick grab to catch the top of the Wanamaker Trophy as it was being presented to him after winning the PGA Championship.

And in 1963, Jack Nicklaus nearly burned his fingers trying to hold the Wanamaker by its handles -- after it had been sitting in the hot Texas sun all afternoon. 

 

Trophy shatters, replacement ordered
June 23, 2015 - 8:56am
mark.aumann's picture
Safeco Field
Baseball fans at Safeco Field can try out the new golf simulator.

Take me out to the ... virtual driving range?

The Seattle Mariners have announced they're unveiling the first golf simulator installed in a major league baseball stadium. The new Safeco Field simulator is operated under the auspices of PGA Professional Gregg Rogers of nearly Bellevue.

"Putting a golf simulator in an MLB ballpark is unusual, but research shows that 42 percent of Mariners fans are also golfers," Rogers was quoted as saying in the team's news release. "This is an opportunity for us to grow the game of golf through a fun, interactive, high-tech experience."

HALL OF FAMERS: Ten of baseball's best golfers

The Safeco Field simulator -- located behind the centerfield bleachers -- uses high-speed 3D cameras to capture images and data at 2,300 frames per second. The images are projected onto a 20-foot wide curved high-definition screen. Golfers have the choice of playing holes from many of the best courses in the world, including St. Andrews, TPC Sawgrass, TPC Scottsdale, Spyglass and Pebble Beach.

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The simulator will open two hours before Mariners home games. For now, it's free, but there will be a charge in the future -- with a portion of the proceeds going to Mariners Care, the team's non-profit foundation.

In addition, Rogers and his staff will offer instruction and club fitting.

 

Golf simulator opens at Safeco Field
June 23, 2015 - 8:30am
mark.aumann's picture
Jason Day
USA Today Sports Images
Jason Day has decided to withdraw from this week's Travelers Championship.

Three days after collapsing with vertigo symptoms while playing in the U.S. Open, Jason Day has decided to withdraw from this week's Travelers Championship. Tournament officials made the announcement via Twitter:

 

 

The decision should come as no surprise, given how much difficulty Day seemed to be in at Chambers Bay, particularly during Saturday's third round. The day before, Day collapsed while walking up the fairway of the course's ninth hole -- on his last hole of the day. After several minutes, Day was helped to his feet and was able to complete the hole, earning a huge round of applause from the stunned gallery.

He was then driven by golf cart to the scorer's tent, where he signed his card, then taken to a van for further medical observation.

PUTTING TIP: Jason Day says 'walk the line'

Day then pulled off one of the gutsiest performances in U.S. Open history over the weekend. Despite the full effects of benign positional vertigo, Day shot a 2-under par 68 on Saturday to tie for the tournament lead. Unfortunately for him, he faded in Sunday's final round, finishing in a tie for ninth with a 74.

He posted this message to his Twitter account later:

 

 

Day has been suffering from vertigo symptoms for quite some time. According to the Associated Press, Day's caddie said dizziness was the reason Day had to withdraw during the final round of the World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational last August. Despite undergoing a procedure that was supposed to restore his equilibrium, Day was unable to play in last month's Byron Nelson after becoming dizzy during the pro-am.

 

Day withdraws from Travelers