Golf: Jordan Spieth commits to defend title at Travelers Championship

Jordan Spieth poses with the winner’s trophy after the final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 25 in Cromwell.

CROMWELL — The shot heard around the PGA in 2017 helped the Travelers Championship earn the tour’s “Tournament of the Year” award.

The author of the shot was Jordan Spieth from the front right-hand bunker on the 18th hole at TPC River Highlands. The result was a hole out from 61 feet for birdie on the first sudden-death playoff hole. Spieth won the Travelers Championship with the shot, beating Daniel Berger.

In the trophy presentation at the 18th green, Spieth told the crowd, “I’m probably going to buy a house here. I’m coming back absolutely.”

Spieth officially committed to defend his title Tuesday in a video conference at TPC River Highlands on Media Day.

“It’s on a different level than most of the PGA Tour events. The fans are absolutely incredible and we are treated like kings,” said Spieth, speaking from the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. “The difference-maker is the people that come out. You have a lot of vantage points, man-made amphitheaters, especially the last four holes that can gather so many people who can be there with you. It’s unique in that sense, it allows for these really exciting roars where you can take a 62 and turn it into a 58.”

Spieth didn’t commit to last year’s Travelers Championship until June 8. It was his first time playing in the event. Spieth became the fourth player in tournament history to win the event in his first start.

“I was striking the ball incredibly well coming into it. It was a matter of with on and around the greens getting back to where I wanted to be,” Spieth said. “I really, really kind of fell in love with that back nine. … My only regret is I didn’t start playing the Travelers sooner.”

This year’s tournament will be held June 21-24 at TPC River Highlands.

Not only do people who witnessed it in person or on TV not only remember the shot, but also the immediate celebration when Spieth and his caddie, Michael Greller, both jumped in the air for an unscripted chest bump.

“I don’t know if I will ever have a moment like that in my golfing career,” Spieth said. “I felt the ground shake there.”

Spieth said the sand wedge he used for the victorious bunker shot is currently sitting next to his Travelers Championship trophy.

That bunker shot gave Spieth, 24, his 10th win on tour. The following month,he won his third major championship, the Open Championship.

“Last year, the next tournament I played was the Open. I still had those great vibes,” Spieth said.

He has not played up to his lofty standards this year with no wins since the Open at Royal Birkdale. He is 30th in the FedExCup standings. Still, most players would love to have his record this year alone even without a win.

In 10 tour events this season, Spieth has four top-10s and finished no worse than a tie for 20th place. He has missed two cuts, but one, at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans almost two weeks ago, was a two-man team event. Spieth is currently fourth In the world rankings.

“The last two months I have been progressing nicely,” Spieth said. “Tee to green and around the greens it’s as good as it’s ever been. It’s just about converting those 10-20 footers. I believe that is coming.”

Spieth joins a field that already includes the last three major champions: the world’s second-ranked player, Justin Thomas, won the PGA Championship last August and Patrick Reed, ranked 10th, won the Masters in April., No. 8 Rory McIlroy, No. 12 Paul Casey and No. 17 Bubba Watson, a two-time winner of the Travelers, are also committed to play next month.

Those players alone have won a combined 11 major titles.