A Tremendous Travelers Championship for Andy Svoboda, PGA
By Ryan Adams, PGA
Andy Svoboda had played in the Travelers Championship before.
But never a Travelers like this.
The 2023 tournament was injected with Designated Event status, giving it a $20 million purse and a super strong field that included World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy.
And Svoboda, who won last year’s Connecticut PGA Section Championship to gain an exemption into the event, was playing right alongside them.
The PGA Head Professional at Great River Golf Club in Milford, Connecticut, even cracked the top 20 heading into the weekend at TPC River Highlands, making the cut and ultimately finishing tied for 64th.
While Svoboda wishes he would’ve played better in the final two rounds, the $43,200 paycheck will go a long way to helping with Q-School. Plus, chopping it up with Patick Cantlay and his caddie Joe LaCava — who actually plays quite a bit at Great River — made for a memorable weekend.
“It really was an incredible experience,” says Svoboda, who was a PGA Teaching Professional at Engineers Country Club in New York before taking his position at Great River three months ago. “Travelers is such a great event, but having the elevated field, with more hype and the best players made it even bigger than it already was.
“To receive an exemption to this type of PGA TOUR event from the Connecticut PGA and the TOUR is really a great honor.”
Svoboda was busy the week before the Travelers with another big-time event, too: the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club, which he qualified for earlier this month. He traveled back to Connecticut, and got paired with Ben James, a standout player on the University of Virginia golf team who grew up playing at Great River and was competing on a sponsors exemption.
“He won the club championship when he was like 13-14,” says Svoboda of James. “There were a ton of fans rooting for him, and being paired together was pretty special because we were the only players in the field from the same club competing.”
Svoboda also had a connection to eventual winner Keegan Bradley. Both attended St. John’s University and played on the men’s golf team, but also crossed paths in mini-tour ventures.
“When he turned pro, we lived in the same house together in Orlando,” remembers Svoboda. “We were pretty friendly. I knew when I met him how good he was.”
Bradley’s former roommate is pretty darn good, too, though. And with the check from Travelers, he’s eyeing Q-School and competing for a PGA TOUR card that gets handed out to the top five, bypassing the Korn Ferry Tour, which he competed on from 2013-15.
“I love to play tournaments,” says Svoboda. “I’m 43 now, but the competitor in me comes out any time I get a chance to play. Hopefully I can capitalize.”
Until then, being a PGA Member? Yeah, he doesn’t mind that either.
“I love being a club pro,” he says. “I’ve made lots of friends, my students are friendly with me, I’ve met so many people at our club, and I feel a part of something being in the Connecticut PGA Section.”