Cromwell, Conn. – Before the first round of the Travel Championship on Thursday, PGA Tour rookie Sahit Tigalu was asked if young players on the field were worried that a group of veterans would reject the tour to join rival Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit.
“Actually, there is a mentality of the next man,” Tegala, 24 years old, answered. “There are a lot of incredibly good players out there. There will be no problem finding the next group of top golfers.”
With one hole left in Sunday’s Travelers final round, it looked like Teegala would be prophetic in the most personal way.
Tigala had a one-hit lead as he stood on the 18th tee after rallying to catch up with third-round leader Xander Schauffele, who started the day with a three-hit lead over Tigala. Reaching out for a rider to hit from left to right, Tygala, who hadn’t missed in any of the previous 17 holes, felt confident.
“The cut is my bread and butter,” he later said. “And I hit well, just didn’t cut. I don’t know why – adrenaline, maybe?
The shot stopped in a bunker on the fairway, a few inches from the imposing steep bank. Tegala needed two shots to avoid the sand, resulting in a double terror and paving the way for Schauffele’s sixth career win. He hit the 18th hole and won the Traveler’s Championship by two strokes over Tigala and JT Poston.
For Schauffele, who won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year, it was his first individual victory in three years. (He teamed with Patrick Cantley to win the Zurich Classic in Louisiana in April.)
“I’m happy because I expected to make the playoffs,” said the 28-year-old Schauffele. “It was a really strong field and Sahit just kept attacking. It was a bit of a shock for me to see how it all played out at the end. I knew the finish would be tight.”
Statistically, Schauffele had one of his best seasons yet, even if his efforts didn’t lead to a personal win, which Schauffele acknowledged on Sunday night.
“I just didn’t get four good rounds in a row, so mentally that would be such a boost for me,” he said. “I feel like it might push me towards some things. At the end of the round, I felt really locked in.”
It was the second time this year that Tigala came close to his first tour win. At the Phoenix Open in February, a poor rebound on the 17th hole of the final round left him one shot short of reaching the playoffs. The defeat left Teegala in tears, but on Sunday he was calm and measured in his analysis of the final episodes. Sometimes he smiled, albeit crookedly.
“I’ve been playing a lot of golf all week and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “That’s the feeling I’m leaving with – a lot of positive emotions.”
Schauffele agreed with Tigala in many respects.
“He’s a really good player and he just needs to keep knocking on the door until he breaks this thing,” Schauffele said.
He added: “There has been a lot of talk about where golf is now. Some say our game is split, but the future is bright.”
With nine holes left on Sunday, Teegala was one of four golfers under 30 vying for the lead in the Travelers, one of the tour’s oldest events. The group included Michael ThorbjornsenA 20-year-old amateur, and Poston, 29. Both fought to remove Schauffele from the top of the leaderboard.
Entering the final holes, the duel between Schauffele and Tegala began to resemble a match game, although Tegala played one group ahead of Schauffele, who was in the last group of the day.
Tigala took the lead for the first time when he hit a par-4 birdie on the 15th hole, and immediately took the lead by hitting an 11-foot birdie on the par-4 17th hole.
As usual, the course at Travelers was filled with the best players, but this year was especially crowded because the TPC River Highlands golf course outside of Hartford is only 105 miles from the Country Club outside of Boston, which hosted the US Open last week . .
Poston, included in Travelers No. No. 162 in the men’s world rankings and one career PGA Tour win in 2019, he had a brilliant Sunday, six below par 64. Poston had three birdies in the front nine and three more in the back nine, and he had there was no scare. It was his third top 10 finish in his last eight tournaments.
Thorbjornsen qualified for this year’s US Open, which was held near his childhood home in Wellesley, Massachusetts, but he missed out on qualifying last week. In Travelers, he was sharp, with four rounds in the 60s, including 65 in the second round. On Sunday, he hit the sixth par-5 hole after hitting wood on the fairway 260 yards into the green and leaving a C on the hole. Four birdies and two scarecrows brought four to 66.