What a strange week in the world of professional golf on all three Tours.
The PGA Tour, the LPGA, and the PGA Tour Champions all had winners, but there was not a superstar in the trio. Obviously, the winners are all solid players inside and outside the ropes, which is often even more important.
Let’s take a look at the LPGA first. The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship was played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in golf-loving Chaska, MN, just outside Minneapolis. In her sophomore year on the LPGA Tour, the win was very popular and at the same time, very unlikely. With all the best from around the world competing, it was somewhat of a surprise that the 22-year-old from Australia, Hannah Green, came out on top and secured her first major championship and her first win on the LPGA Tour.
Another very popular win went up on the board on the PGA Tour Champions in Madison, WI at the American Family Insurance Championship. In addition to the main event, there was a nine-hole celebrity scramble featuring just four players. Brett Favre, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, partnered with golf legend Jack Nicklaus, while popular country-and-western singer Toby Keith partnered up with two-time U.S. Open Champion and Wisconsin native, Andy North.
It was amazing to watch 79-year-old Jack hit several quality golf shots, and what a treat it was for the 30,000-plus spectators to see. Nicklaus was not the only thing the Wisconsin gallery had to cheer about. When Madison, WI’s very own Jerry Kelley survived a three-man playoff against another Wisconsin favorite, Steve Stricker, and former U.S. Open Champion and newly minted World Golf Hall of Fame Inductee, Retief Goosen, the pro-Wisconsin crowd left the course very happy.
Happy indeed, but probably nowhere as happy as the top two finishers in the Travelers Championship.
One of the best feel-good stories of the year so far involves a little-known PGA Tour player, Zach Sucher. Zach has had his share of injuries coupled with less-than-great play which led to less-than-great results. Over the last 17 months, he has played in only four events. For those at the bottom of the Tour ladder, overhead costs are a real concern. Accommodation, travel, food, and caddie fees all add up quickly.
Zach and his wife, Courtney, decided to bet on their own abilities to succeed so they had just about maxed out all the credit cards when Zach got into the Travelers field. Of course, this reminds me of playing someone for $20 when I only had $10 in my pocket, which is definitely something Zach and Keegan Bradley don’t have to worry about as they both tied for second place and won $633,600 each.
Chez Reavie’s rookie year on the PGA Tour was 2008, 11 years ago, and it was also the year he won his first event, the RBC Canadian Open. Little did Reavie know it would take him another 258 events and 11 years to chalk up win number two and now he is the very deserving 2019 Travelers Champion.
As delighted as Reavie is with his win, I’m pretty sure Sucher feels betting on his own abilities was the right thing to do. He started out 2019 ranked 2006th in the world, steadily improved his ranking to 505th when the Travelers Championship started, is now ranked 147th, banked over $600,000, and likely has no credit card debt.