For the first time in 11 years, Chez Reavie is a PGA Tour champion!
With a modest final-round 1-under 69 at the Travelers Championship, Reavie reached 17-under for the week, good for a four-stroke victory over Keegan Bradley, and feel-good story Zack Sucher.
Despite the final four-stroke margin, this WAS not a cruise-control win for the Arizona State product.
The 37-year-old came into the week hot, finishing T3 at last week’s U.S. Open – by far his best showing in a major, and after carding birdies on eight of his final 11 holes on Saturday, he held a six-stroke lead with just 18 holes to play.
Reavie knew not to get too comfortable, though. The Travelers Championship has a history of comeback wins, included a year ago when Bubba Watson claimed victory despite being seven strokes back to start the day, propelling past Paul Casey, who had held a four-stroke advantage after 54 holes.
There was also the fact that Reavie had been winless in his last 250 starts – with his last (and only) victory coming at the 2008 Canadian Open, where he edged Billy Mayfair by three shots. It’s safe to say, even with the large lead, Reavie had a bit of a mental hurdle to clear in Connecticut.
Reavie did what he needed to: he did not go backwards. Surprisingly, though, for a time, that looked like it would not be enough. While Reavie carded par after par (14 over his first 16 holes), Bradley, Reavie’s final-round playing partner, went on a back-nine birdie binge, largely fueled by a hot putter, a surprising development from the man who came into the week ranked 206th out of 207 on Tour in strokes gained: putting.
When Bradley, the former major champion – who himself ended a six-year win drought last year at the BMW, birdied the par-4 16th, Reavie’s lead was suddenly just one with three holes to play. After Reavie and Bradley both parred the 16th, it was still one with two to play.
But then the approach shots on No. 17 changed everything. With water in front of the par-4 green, Bradley airmailed his shot, which came from a fairway bunker, well over the green, while Reavie took an aggressive line – barely clearing the water, and landing 14 feet from the hole. Reavie calmly sank his birdie putt, just his second birdie of the day, while Bradley made a further mess of the hole, hitting a poor shot from behind the green, and then three-putting for a double bogey.
Suddenly, a one-stroke lead with two holes to go was a four-stroke lead with one to go.
A par on 18 in front of a jubilant crowd at one of the Tour’s most-attended events, was more than enough to secure his second career victory. Only a handful of players in Tour history have had to wait longer between their first and second victories, and while it was not quite the nearly 19 years that Frances Ouimet, the man who won the 1913 U.S. Open as an amateur had to wait, it was painfully long nonetheless. And now it’s over.
Leaderboard: Final Top-10
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Chez Reavie -17 (-1)
2. Zack Sucher -13 (-3)
2. Keegan Bradley -13 (-3)
4. Vaugh Taylor -12 (-5)
5. Paul Casey -11 (-5)
5. Joaquin Niemann -11 (-4)
5. Kevin Tway -11 (-3)
8. Abraham Ancer -10 (-7)
8. Brian Harman -10 (-4)
8. Bryson DeChambeau -10 (-2)
8. Jason Day -10 (-1)
8. Roberto Diaz -10 (-1)
13. Tommy Fleetwood -9
15. Kevin Kisner, Ryan Moore, Patrick Cantlay -8
21. Russell Knox, Marc Leishman -6
30. Patrick Reed -5
36. Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Thomas -4
43. Brandt Snedeker -3
54. Bubba Watson, Viktor Hovland -1
57. Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari E
How Chez Reavie Won The Travelers Championship
Reavie has had something of a proclivity for streakiness on Tour, which was especially on display last year. At one point, he finished runner-up in back-to-back events, which came shortly after five top-18 finishes in a six-event stretch.
In another stretch of the season, he missed five cuts in a row, and at another, he went five consecutive stroke-play events with nothing better than a T52. He was showing a similar pattern this year, so it was not terribly surprising when he got into the mix after his T3 a week ago at Pebble Beach.
The Kansas native and Arizona State alum opened his week with rounds of 66 and 65, before putting his foot on the accelerator down the stretch of his third-round 63, which tied for the field’s low round of the week.
His putts were not dropping in the final round, but he was fantastic with his irons, and stayed composed, playing his Sunday 69 with 15 pars, two birdies, and just one bogey.
For the entire week, Reavie had just three bogeys, while his 20 birdies tied for fourth most in the field. He led the field for the week in strokes gained: approach-the-green, strokes gained: tee-to-green, and strokes gained: total. In addition, he was second in scrambling, T3 in driving accuracy, and T7 in greens in regulation.
Reavie’s Winning Stats
Driving: 279.2 yards (54th)
Fairways: 47/56, 83.9% (3rd)
Greens: 54/72, 75.0% (7th)
Putts Per GIR: 1.685 1.679 (10th)
Scoring: 20 Birdies, 49 Pars, 3 Bogeys
What It Means For Reavie
It’s unknown how much snapping such a long winning drought could catalyze Reavie’s career, but he has certainly put himself on the map these past two weeks as a player who can compete any time, anywhere.
After his high finish at the U.S. Open, Reavie jumped from 65th to 48th in the world rankings, and with this victory, will jump up well ahead of his career-best of 43rd. It will not be quite the jump that he had after his last victory, where he came into the week ranked 362nd and left ranked 184th, but he will be much higher up the list.
He also rises to 12th in the current FedExCup Standings and is a near-lock to reach the Tour Championship for just the second time in his career (2011). He has also put himself firmly on the radar for the Presidents Cup Team, an event he has never played.
Reavie’s 2019 PGA Tour Season
Missed Cuts: 4
Wins: 1 (Travelers Champ)
Addtl Top 10s/20s: 4/2
Money Earned: $3,498,484 (11th)
FedExCup Pts: 1,272 (12th)
World Rank Before/After: 48/26
Three years ago in this event, Jim Furyk started Sunday well back of the lead, and rocketed up into a tie for fifth after shooting a 58, the lowest round in PGA Tour history. There was no 58 out there today, but the low round of the day did come early.
Abraham Ancer birdied 8 holes as part of his 7-under 63, which moved him 33 spots up the leaderboard, into a tie for 8th. His 63 tied the second round of Jason Day and the third round of Reavie for the field low for the week.
The only player in the field to improve his final position more on Sunday was Russell Knox, who like Furyk three years ago, was in the first pairing to tee off on Sunday. Knox, despite paired with the World No. 1 (more on that later), shot a 5-under 65 to move up 46 spots, from T67 to T21.
Paul Casey had a disastrous Sunday a year ago, shooting a 2-over 73 and squandering the four-shot lead he had to start the day. He was much more comfortable on Sunday this year playing from further back. His 5-under 65, which included an eagle-2 on the par-4 15th, was bettered only by Ancer.
Casey finished T5, his sixth top-10 of the season.
Joaquin Niemann took the PGA Tour by storm a year ago as a 19-year-old rookie from Chile, prompting a consensus declaration of future greatness. However, Niemann has found his sophomore season on Tour to be much more difficult, and in his last 17 starts coming into the week, he had failed to post as much as a top-25 finish. Niemann was tremendous at TPC River Highlands this week, though, as his bogey-free 4-under 66 on Sunday was his fourth consecutive round in the 60s. He finished T5, tying the best result of his young career.
PGA Tour fans are still waiting on what feels like an inevitable first career victory for the suave Tommy Fleetwood, who was at 8-under and in a tie for sixth coming into Sunday. The Brit was thoroughly pedestrian on Sunday, however, carding just two birdies in a 1-under 69.
While it could be pointed out that score did match Reavie’s, the situation called for much more on Fleetwood’s part, and he ended up dropping out of the top 10, entirely, landing at T13.
One player who would have been much happier with Fleetwood’s Sunday was Martin Laird, who also started the day T6. Laird, sitting at 138th in the FedExCup Standings and needing a great round, shot a 2-over 73, to drop into a tie for 21st. His 73 tied for the worst round of anyone who finished inside the top 30.
Both Fleetwood and Laird were amazing on Sunday, though, compared to the disastrous final round of Sam Saunders.
Carding seven bogies, a double, and a triple, Saunders shot a 10-over 80 – the worst round of the entire week, even among those who missed the cut. Saunders dropped 36 spots down the leaderboard, finishing solo-70th, dead last among those who made it to Sunday.
The grandson of the legendary Arnold Palmer has yet to post a top-25 finish in 20 starts on the season. At 188th in the FedExCup Standings, he need to turn his game around soon if he wants to secure his Tour card for next season.
Koepka: Not In Major Form
If Brooks Koepka is trying to dispel the notion that he only cares about majors, he is not doing a very good job as of late. In his first event since he won the PGA Championship for the second consecutive year in May, Koepka finished T50 at the RBC Canadian Open, his U.S. Open tune-up where he was the two-time defending champion.
Then at the U.S. Open, which took place just last week, Koepka was again in mostly major form, finishing runner-up, his third finish of second place or better in three major starts this year.
He was in the field for this week’s Travelers Championship, but was completely irrelevant.
After rebounding from a 1-over first round to make the cut, a 2-over 72 on Saturday had him near the bottom of the leaderboard, and in the first group out on Sunday.
His Sunday round? Just marginally better.
The man with four major championships in his last nine major starts shot his third over-par round of the week, as two birdies were cancelled out by a bogey and a double en route to a 1-over 71, dropping him to even-par for the week.
Koepka actually did rise 10 spots up the Sunday leaderboard because there were so many terrible early rounds, but a T57 is still a very disappointing result for a player of his caliber. Not a lot clicked with his game this week: among a number of disappointing statistics, he finished 66th in the field in driving accuracy, T53 in greens in regulation and 62nd in strokes gained: putting.
We Saw Him When: Viktor Hovland
Viktor Hovland was one of the stories of the U.S. Open a week ago, when he finished T12 as an amateur. Reaching 4-under at Pebble Beach, he broke the tournament’s all-time amateur record, which just happened to have been held by a man named Jack Nicklaus.
Hovland turned professional immediately after the U.S. Open, making this week at the Travelers the first career pro start for the reigning U.S. Amateur Champion, who appears destined for stardom.
Hovland started the week with a phenomenal 5-under 67, but fell off the track a bit with a 1-over 71 on Friday. A third-round 68 had him in a respectable tie for 34th coming into Sunday. His first final round as a professional was a struggle, however. With four bogeys and a double, he shot a 3-over 73, dropping into a tie for 54th.
Still, he finished 1-under-par for the week, and finished ahead of Koepka in an event where neither Phil Mickelson nor Jordan Spieth even made the weekend. Also, after making $0 for his work at the U.S. Open, a big downside of being an amateur, Hovland was awarded for his efforts at TPC Highland with a check for $16,560. Not bad for the first week of his new career.
“Golf is tough, right? There are a lot of great players on the PGA Tour. To win out here is an honor and something that should not be overlooked or underappreciated.”
– Chez Reavie, Travelers Champion