The PGA Tour is in Cromwell, Conn., at TPC River Highlands this week for the Travelers Championship, where Bubba Watson is the defending champion.
This particular stop has been a mainstay on the PGA Tour for many, many years and a favorite amongst the players, the likes of which include former winners and New England natives Brad Faxon and J.J. Henry.
Before the first tee shot was struck, we caught up with TPC River Highlands PGA Head Professional Mike Messner for a little insight.
PGA.com: Thanks for joining us, Mike. This is your second year as PGA Head Professional at TPC River Highlands. How much of your time over the course of a year is spent preparing for the Travelers Championship?
Messner: Thank you for the opportunity, T.J.! Most of the work for my team begins about three or four months prior to the tournament. However, Nathan Grube, Tournament Director, and his dedicated team begin prepping for the next Travelers Championship as soon as the last putt drops on Sunday.
PGA.com: It's not uncommon for a lot of big-name players to take the week off following a major championship. However, that couldn't be further from the truth for your tournament, which boasts many of the biggest names in golf. What does that say about your tournament?
Messner: I believe it says that we have a great sponsor in the Travelers, a golf course which Tour players enjoy year after year, and an incredibly loyal fan base.
PGA.com: What are you most looking forward to about this week as the head professional of the host club for a Tour event?
Messner: I'm looking forward to the excitement that the PGA Tour and the Travelers Championship brings to our community. The Travelers Championship has done such an incredible job integrating events and activities throughout this entire week to support our local charities and our military. I couldn't be prouder to be associated with the Travelers Championship.
PGA.com: Bubba Watson has absolutely shot to stardom since his victory in your tournament last summer. Are you surprised that that win launched Bubba into a star so quickly? The confidence he's had since then is incredible, isn't it?
Messner: There is no doubt that Bubba is at the forefront of the best young American golfers but I believe he was a rising star as soon as he hit the PGA Tour in 2007. We are really excited that the Travelers Championship not only gave him his first victory, but also the added confidence to win two more times since. He is definitely playing at a high level right now.
PGA.com: There always seems to be an exciting finish at TPC River Highlands. Should be expect anything different this time around?
Messner: Over the last few years the fans have seen victory-clinching putts drop on the final hole, two exciting playoffs, and a come-from-behind victory. With that kind of history, I would expect nothing different and could almost guarantee just as much excitement from this year's event.