Suzy Whaley back on familiar ground at Hartford Women's Open

By Tom Yantz
Published on
Suzy Whaley back on familiar ground at Hartford Women's Open

Suzy Whaley congratulated competitors and spoke with friends and fans behind the 18th green at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford on Sunday.

She beamed with pride, not only as PGA Secretary, but also as a woman, watching the final round of the inaugural Hartford Women's Open.

"This is incredible," said Whaley of Farmington. "The opportunity to play in such a tournament is significant. And to play at such courses as Keney and Goodwin [Park GC-Hartford] is even better."

She credited the Connecticut Section PGA, a business consultant atthe two city courses, which conducted the $10,000 tournament. She has a memorable history with the organization. Her victory in the Connecticut Section PGA Championship in 2002 gave her the automatic spot in the Greater Hartford Open the next year.

There were not huge crowds at Goodwin Park GC and Keney Park GC, like at the 2003 GHO.

Nevertheless, like Whaley that year to be the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias in 1945, what was done in the Hartford Women's Open was historic. It was the first pro/amateur open tournament in Hartford for women. And it was played at the two Hartford public courses, which have been significantly upgraded with renovations.

Hartford Women's Open champion Dani Mullin praised both courses. She was impressed with multilevels, slopes and size of the greens at Keney Park GC. "Both courses need time for the grass to mature and the courses to grow," she said. "But it's all there."

Whaley could have been at the U.S. Open in her official capacity at Oakmont (Pa.) CC or someplace else on Sunday.

The place she wanted to be was Keney Park GC.

"There are a lot of younger players, college players and such here," Whaley said. "That's important for women to grow the game. I'm proud of the Connecticut Section PGA for providing this opportunity for this tournament and for it to grow. And I'm proud of the city of Hartford."

Bubba A Local Celeb

Arnold Palmer (1956, '60), Peter Jacobsen (1984, 2003), Paul Azinger (1987, 1989), Stewart Cink (1997, 2008), Phil Mickelson (2001, '02) and Bubba Watson ('10, '15) are the only two-time winners in the history of the annual PGA Tour event in Connecticut.

For Watson, the reigning Travelers Championship winner, to be the only player to win three championships (Billy Casper is the leader with four: 1963, '65, '68 and '72), he believes his driver will be the most important club to achieve that.

". . . My driving gets me in the right areas where I can attack the golf course and play the level that I want to," Watson said. "It can give me a good shot at winning. . ."

Not like the Whale

This marks the 10th year that Travelers is the title sponsor of the tournament after it had stepped up when there were significant sponsorship concerns that it could continue a decade ago. ". . . People still stop me in the street and say, 'Thank you for saving the tournament because it could have been like the Hartford Whalers,' and I said, 'Whoa, don't make that analogy.' " Travelers Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer Andy Bessette said. The NHL Whalers bolted Hartford for Greensboro, N.C. in 1997. ... The tie will be broken. The Travelers Championship August 4-7 will be the 33rd at TPC River Highlands. The first 32 years of the tournament, which has had multiple names starting with the Insurance City Open in 1952, were at Wethersfield CC.

CVS Classic In R.I.

The CVS Health Charity Classic Golf Tournament field is impressive for the competition Monday through Wednesday at Rhode Island CC: Billy Andrade, Jason Bohn, Keegan Bradley, Paula Creamer, Jon Curran, Bryson DeChambeau, Jason Dufner, Brad Faxon, Tony Finau, Branden Grace, Bill Haas, Brooke Henderson, Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Louis Oosthuizen, Morgan Pressel, Jamie Sadlowski, Steve Stricker and Lexi Thompson. Creamer, Henderson and Thompson are three stars of the LPGA Tour. DeChambeau has been impressive in his PGA Tour rookie season. Grace and Oosthuizen played well at the U.S. Open. Curran and long-hitting Finau are rising tour players, while the veteran Stricker is a vice-captain for the U.S. Ryder Cup team this fall. ... Angela Garvin goes for her third consecutive Connecticut Junior PGA Championship at The Course at Yale-New Haven Monday and Tuesday. "I love competition," said Garvin, 15, from Feeding Hills, Mass. "Usually when I play in tournaments, I play well." . . . The New England Women's Golf Association championship is June 28-30 at the CC of Vermont in Waterbury Center, Vt. Nathalie Filler of Bloomfield won last year. She recently turned professional and is not in the field.

This article was written by Tom Yantz from The Hartford Courant and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.