5 Travelers Championship takeaways: Scottie Scheffler wins another jacket; Tom Kim shines

The Travelers Championship in Connecticut always delivers, and this year’s edition echoed that sentiment once again.

Scottie Scheffler won his sixth event of the year, becoming the first player since Arnold Palmer in 1962 to win six PGA Tour events before July 1 in a season. The win marks Scheffler’s fourth Signature Event title, along with his impressive victories at TPC Sawgrass and Augusta National.

But unlike his five prior wins in 2024, Scheffler needed to prevail in a playoff this time around. He defeated Tom Kim on the first playoff hole—the par-4 18th. Kim dunked his approach into the greenside bunker as his ball nestled in a buried lie. Scheffler, meanwhile, stuffed his second shot to 11 feet, which all but secured the title.

The 22-year-old Kim could not get up and down, and Scheffler lagged his putt next to the hole—a fresh cup thanks to the chaos that ensued on the 18th hole in regulation. Minutes before, protestors invaded the green, spraying colorful substances all over the putting surface and leaving marks everywhere. Consequently, the PGA Tour’s agronomy team had to cut a new pin location for the playoff: 11 steps on and five from the right. The interruption paused play for 15 minutes.

Then, after police had subjugated the trespassers, Kim rolled in a 10-footer for birdie to force a playoff with the top-ranked player in the world, who also dubs as one of his best friends. It produced a surreal moment at TPC River Highlands, one that both players will soon not forget.

Scottie Scheffler, Travelers Championship

Scottie Scheffler and Tom Kim embrace after the 2024 Travelers Championship.
Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour via Getty Images

5 Takeaways from Travelers Championship:

1. It’s Scottie Scheffler’s world

Scottie Scheffler bounced back with a vengeance after his worst performance of the season at the U.S. Open. He carded two rounds of 64 and a pair of 65s to finish at 22-under par in regulation, seven days after posting 7-over. Scheffler was locked in all week, mainly due to a putter that rebounded nicely after a brutal week at Pinehurst No. 2.

The two-time Masters champion gained 2.540 strokes with the putter in Connecticut, good for 16th in this limited field. To help put that in perspective, Scheffler lost 1.51 strokes to the field last week, ranking 71st of 74 players who made the cut.

Granted, TPC River Highlands pales in comparison to No. 2 as it relates to green complexes and overall difficulty. But to win at this golf course, you have to shoot 4-or-5-under every day to have a solid chance to win.

“You have an off day; all of a sudden, it’s much harder to catch up,” Scheffler said.

Scottie Scheffler, Travelers Championship

Scottie Scheffler chats after his win.
Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour via Getty Images

“I feel like sometimes at the harder golf courses, you can fake it around a little bit for a day or two and hang around and hang, but sometimes these golf courses when they’re a little bit softer and not as demanding, there’s always a lot of birdies, just because the fields out here are so deep, and once you get behind, it can be harder to catch up.”

Scheffler made the putts when he needed to and failed to make a single mistake down the stretch. He looked unflappable for all four days, yet Scheffler burned a few lips on the back nine on Sunday. Imagine if a couple more of those putts had fallen.

Now, he will take three weeks off to rest and recuperate before The Open Championship at Royal Troon, leading many of Scheffler’s fellow professionals to breathe a sigh of relief.

2. Tom Kim is here to stay

Kudos to Tom Kim, who brought the World No. 1 to the brink on Sunday in Connecticut. Kim held a piece of the lead on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, an impressive feat at any PGA Tour event—let alone the eighth consecutive one you have played.

He did not have his best stuff with him early, as his even par 35 on the front nine reflected that. Despite that, Kim played spectacularly on the back nine. He got a big boost of momentum on the par-4 10th, where he knocked his approach to nine feet and subsequently drained the putt for birdie.

Three more birdies for Kim followed, none more important than the one on the 72nd hole. But Kim also took advantage of the scorable holes on the back nine: the par-5 13th and the drivable par-4 15th. You have to make birdie on those holes, or you will lose strokes to the field. Look no further than Akshay Bhatia, who was in the mix but faded thanks to lackluster pars on the 13th and 15th.

Tom Kim, Travelers Championship

Tom Kim reacts to his birdie on the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 Travelers Championship.
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Kim did not fade from the limelight, however. He shined in it, proving that he can take on any player in the world head-on. The Seoul, South Korea native will only get better from here.

“I fought hard. I really did. I played really well this week,” Kim said.

“I was really close, really, really close, but I was just a shot short. Unfortunately, when you’re going against Scottie, who I know very, very well, I knew that I had to play really good golf [on Sunday], and I felt like I did. It got tough out there with the wind, but I fought hard. It was just shy, but I’m taking some positive things going into the rest of the season.”

Unlike Scheffler, Kim will keep the pedal to the metal at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the Detroit-area tournament that will mark his ninth tournament in a row.

3. Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay: close, but no cigar… again

At one point late in the day, you saw Tony Finau and Patrick Cantlay’s names pop up towards the leaderboard. Finau tied the lead at 20-under with a birdie at the 15th hole, while Cantlay crept up to 19-under, thanks to back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th holes.

Could this be the week for Finau, who has not won since the 2023 Mexico Open? Or could Cantlay pick up his first trophy since the 2022 BMW Championship?

But their fate was sealed on the par-3 16th, which measured only 158 yards on Sunday. The large pond in front of the green, coupled with a front left-hole location and a devilish swirling wind, made things nearly impossible. It turned this short par-3 into a bear late in the day on Sunday, ranking as the second most challenging hole during the final round.

Patrick Cantlay, PGA Tour, Travelers Championship

Patrick Cantlay during the final round of the 2024 Travelers Championship.
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cantlay played in the group ahead of Finau and pulled his iron shot long and left. It settled up against the rough while sitting below the putting surface, thus making it all but impossible to save par. A bogey there dropped him back to 18-under, as he ultimately tied for fifth. Cantlay tied for third at Pinehurst No. 2 last week, his best career finish in a major. He could be someone to watch out for at Royal Troon, as his game finally looks to be in shape.

Finau, meanwhile, came up woefully short from the tee, as his watery demise led to a double-bogey five. He went on to tie for fifth, one week after tying for third at the U.S. Open. But, like last week, a mistake cost Finau a chance at glory. The chipping and putting mistakes did him in on the 13th hole on Saturday, while a poorly struck approach into the wind cost him today. At any rate, Finau will be back. It’s a matter of when, not if, he wins again.

4. Signature Events need work

We need more players in Signature Events.

I understand that the PGA Tour wants top players to compete against the best, but 71 players are not enough in one of the season’s marquee events. At a minimum, 100 players need to play. Too much talent in professional golf exists for the PGA Tour to roll out the red carpet for only a third of its members. Plus, golf is the most random sport of them all. Anything can happen on any given round on any given day, so why not add to the drama and expand Signature Events by 30 people or so?

So, in 2025, when the Travelers Championship will once again act as a Signature Event on the heels of the U.S. Open, I hope to see more than 72 players in the field. One hundred has a nice round number to it; plus, it’s not as if there is a night-and-day difference between the 72nd-ranked player and the 102nd. Heck, anyone of the top 1,000 players in the world realistically has the game to contend in a PGA Tour event. Just ask ninth-alternate John Daly.

Nevertheless, the Signature Event model is here to stay, but it certainly could use some enhancements. Adding more players who deserve an opportunity would be a good start.

Scottie Scheffler, Travelers Championship

Scottie Scheffler plays the 17th hole during the final round.
Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA Tour via Getty Images

5. TPC River Highlands: too easy?

Once again, TPC River Highlands yielded plenty of birdies and not a lot of bogies. That’s fine if you like surreal scoring, hoping somebody wins at 30-under par. But it just does not provide the entertainment value that other demanding courses do.

As Scottie Scheffler alluded to in his post-round presser, it’s almost more of a challenge to set ‘par’ at a 5-under 65, knowing that if you do not shoot a 65, you are losing strokes to the field. Look at Tom Kim, who shot a 4-under 66 as the final-round leader and lost—a tough pill to swallow.

But at 6,835 yards, the modern game has likely passed TPC River Highlands by. With that said, this course has committed itself to hosting the PGA Tour’s best once again in 2025 and should do so once again. It deserves it. The layout is spectacular, with the final four holes always producing drama. And the community embraces this tournament like a major championship. Plus, the hospitality for players, volunteers, media, and fans alike is all top-notch, a true five-star experience.

Yet, we have an idea: what if the Travelers Championship became the Northeast’s premier Signature Event, rotating around a bevy of top courses within the region? Obviously, this region has plenty of capital. So, perhaps Bethpage Black hosts one year while Liberty National slides in during another. Maybe TPC Boston will get back in the mix. Or Aronimink in Philadelphia. Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey would be another viable candidate.

At any rate, the tour has an opportunity to take things a step further regarding its Signature Events by rotating courses in and out. Yes, the Hartford, Connecticut community would be heartbroken to see this tournament leave, but the Travelers Championship could always return to this area, too.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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