By Sam McPherson
Scotland’s Russell Knox won the Travelers Championship on Sunday with a 14-under par score, after shooting all four rounds at TPC River Highlands in the 60s. He held off three hard-charging Americans down the stretch on a low-scoring day. Jerry Kelly’s closing 64 helped him to a second-place finish at 13-under. Meanwhile, Justin Thomas’ round of 62 vaulted him into a third-place tie at 12-under par with Patrick Rodgers, who shot a mere 68 in the final round.
However, the big news was Jim Furyk, who set the PGA Tour single-round record with a score of 58. The Tour veteran and 2003 U.S. Open champion was one of five players to hold the previous record of 59 in competitive play. Furyk’s closing round put him into a four-way tie for fifth place at 11-under par and salvaged an otherwise lackluster week that saw the 2010 PGA Player of Year put up 73-66-72 in the first three rounds.
Furyk shot 27 on the front nine, which included one eagle, six birdies and two pars. When he birdied the first three holes on the back nine, Furyk was looking at six holes remaining with a chance for the historic 58. Three straight pars on the 13th, 14th and 15th holes were somewhat of a letdown. But when he birdied the 16th hole to go to 12-under par on the day, the pressure was on for the final two holes. Forget going lower; Furyk just didn’t want to screw it up at that point. His steady pars on the final two holes clinched the lowest round of golf in PGA Tour history — and that fifth-place tie with Daniel Berger, Robert Garrigus and Tyrone van Aswegen.
But back to Knox, who claimed the $1.188 million winner’s purse with weeklong steadiness. Ten players shot all four rounds in 60s at the Travelers, but Knox was the best of them all. After opening with back-to-back 67s on Thursday and Friday, he followed up with 64-68 over the weekend to secure his second PGA Tour win in the last nine months. Knox didn’t have a statistically dominant week; his best stat was a fifth-place tie for greens in regulation (79.17 percent). However, it’s hard to find fault with a performance that included just six bogeys as compared to 20 birdies overall. Knox has now earned almost $4.5 million on Tour this season, and with four top-10 finishes and eight top 25s, he is playing the best golf of his career.
Kelly’s second-place finish was also impressive, if golf fans can get past Furyk’s round and Knox’s win. Kelly finished second in driving accuracy (82.14 percent) and fourth in putting (1.655 putts per hole) this week, as his scorecards look similar to the winner’s. However, the 49-year-old PGA Tour veteran and three-time Tour winner did shoot a 70 on Friday which, in hindsight, kept him from claiming his fourth title. The second-place purse did push Kelly’s career winnings on Tour to over $28 million.
Next On The Tee: John Deere Classic
While many of the world’s top-ranked golfers will be in Rio this week for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the PGA Tour heads to Silvis, Illinois, for the John Deere Classic. Played on the TPC Deere Run course, this event has a $4.8 million purse and will still feature many fan favorites. Past champions scheduled to play include Brian Harman (2014), Zach Johnson (2012) and Steve Stricker (2009-2011). However, defending champion Jordan Spieth, who also won three years ago, won’t be among them.
Other notables in the field will include 2011 PGA Championship winner, Keegan Bradley, and 2003 Open Championship winner, Ben Curtis. Those two make up half the historic quartet of golfers who won their major championship debut. Johnson, of course, won the 2007 Masters and the 2015 Open Championship, so plenty of experience and success will be on display this week at TPC Deere Run.
The course, designed by D.A. Weibring, a former PGA Tour player and five-time winner, opened in 2000. The event itself goes back to 1971, when it was the Quad Cities Open — a tournament Weibring won three times himself. The John Deere Classic is usually played in July the week before the Open Championship, but the Summer Olympics’ inclusion of golf this year forced the event to move to its current spot on the Tour calendar for 2016.
The TPC Deere Run course plays 7,257 yards long and is a par 71.
Favorites: Robert Garrigus, Zach Johnson, Patrick Rodgers
Players to Watch: Jerry Kelly, Steve Stricker, Tyrone van Aswegen
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.