Cromwell, Connecticut: A week after coming in second at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka’s tank was empty. He followed his opening-round 71 with a 66 on Friday and made the cut, which is more than Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth could do at TPC River Highlands, but Koepka was never in contention at the Travelers Championship.
He signed for a 71 on Sunday more than an hour before the leaders teed off.
“I’m dead. I’m fried,” Koepka said Saturday. “I don’t know. My body is starting to ache, too. It’s a combo. It’s hard to focus.”
Chez Reavie played alongside Koepka at Pebble Beach in the last round of the U.S. Open and finished third, but he certainly did not suffer the same fatigue.
The 160-pound, 5-foot 9-inch resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., looked fresh as a daisy on Saturday while shooting a back-nine 28. That gave him a six-shot lead heading into Sunday’s final round.
Good thing, because Reavie, who shot 69, wound up needing every one of those shots to hold off Keegan Bradley and win the 2019 Travelers Championship.
It was clear from the start that scoring conditions were good. Abraham Ancer shot 63 early in the day, and Vaughn Taylor, Paul Casey and Russell Knox each posted 65s to zoom up the leaderboard.
However, Reavie was still at even par through 15 holes Sunday as Bradley, who statistically is one of the worst putters on the PGA Tour, hit fantastic chip shots and poured in putt after putt on the firming TPC River Highlands greens. Over his first 15 holes, Bradley was 5 under and had trimmed Reavie’s lead to a single shot.
After missing several putts short, including a 10-foot birdie chance on the eighth hole and an 11-foot birdie chance at the 16th, Reavie finally got clear of Bradley on the 400-yard, par-4 17th.
Teeing off first, Bradley’s drive avoided the lake on the right side but landed in a fairway bunker on the left. Reavie split the fairway. Then from a flat lie and needing to hit the ball 157 yards over the water to reach the hole, Bradley hit the ball with the leading edge of his iron. It screamed over the water and shot through the green, finally stopping 75 feet behind the hole.
“I hit a 9-iron and I skulled it,” Bradley said afterward. “I just hit it thin. It’s an absolutely brutal shot. I mean, a fairway bunker with water short. It’s a brutal shot and I got it thin. If I could have a shot back, obviously that would be the one.”
Reavie, calmly, hit his approach shot from 150 yards away to 14 feet to set up another birdie chance. He made it, and Bradley wound up making a double bogey.
No. 17, the hardest hole of the week @TravelersChamp.
It’s also the hole that sealed the victory for Chez Reavie. pic.twitter.com/N0NhVtTt1M
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 24, 2019
It was as if someone had hit Reavie’s pressure-release valve. He took a deep breathe walking to the 18th tee, split another fairway with his tee shot (he hit 11 of 14 fairways on Sunday) and then got up and down for par.
A fist pump after he retrieved his ball from the bottom of the cup punctuated the win.
“I had to stay patient today. Keegan was playing great and I kept missing putts,” Reavie said. “It felt like I was hitting good putts and they just weren’t going in. Finally, I made one on 17 to turn the corner.”
Reavie entered the week ranked 35th in the FedEx Cup points race, but with the win moves up to the 12th spot. He also won just over $1.2 million.
Bradley, from Woodstock, Vermont, smiled leaving the 18th green and said he loved the battle with Reavie, who he respects deeply. This is the only PGA Tour event of the season in New England, and the crowd was solidly behind him all day. He tied for second with Zack Sucher, four shots behind Reavie.
“Man, I’ve dreamt of this ever since I started coming to this event when I was 10 years old,” he said. “Coming to this tournament every year, putting myself in position and giving myself a chance on the back side. Man, it lived up to the hype. It was awesome.”
Reavie has certainly dreamt of days like today too. His last PGA Tour win came at the 2008 RBC Canadian Open. Thankfully, his composure down the stretch helped to keep this dream from turning into a nightmare.
Chez Reavie’s last TOUR win was 2008. Back then …
No. 1 song: “Low” by @Official_Flo
Best picture: No Country For Old Men@Giants defeated @Patriots in Super Bowl@Beyonce married Jay-Z@JustinBieber was discovered on @YouTube@MichaelPhelps won record 8 gold medals @Olympics pic.twitter.com/b1i7VQxtH6
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 23, 2019