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U.S. Open champion Justin Rose hunting birdies at Travelers
CROMWELL, Conn. — Justin Rose took care of winning his first major championship last week.
This week is more about enjoying himself and playing with the confidence of a U.S. Open champion, Rose said Wednesday.
Rose, who is now ranked third in the world, leads a field of 156 players at the Travelers Championship, on the par-70 TPC River Highlands course that invites golfers to try for birdies. Last year's winner, Marc Leishman, shot a 14-under par, 266.
"It's a perfect week for the week after a major," said Rose, who won last week with a score of 1-over 281. "It's got challenges out there, but the challenge is, can you go low?"
Rose said he planned in advance to play a three-week stretch starting at Merion, and loves the TPC River Highlands course, where he has three top-10 finishes in seven starts. But he acknowledged being a bit tired and said he might have to rely on the adrenaline of his U.S. Open victory to help him through this week. He arrived Tuesday night after a flurry of media appearances in New York.
"I was doing my best to try to soak in being the U.S. Open champion," he said. "Went on some great shows I've seen on TV, and then to be part of it, is a slightly surreal moment too."
He said he's also looking forward to getting some sleep, some regular meals, and spending time with his children for the first time since hoisting the trophy on Sunday.
"They couldn't care less about the big shiny trophy in the house, to be honest with you," he said. "My little boy for Father's Day made me like a clay trophy, which he colored in. So I told him that was my favorite trophy in the house. So he's good."
Rose, who is now ranked third in the world, is one of just six top-20 players in the Travelers field. The others are Lee Westwood (12), Keegan Bradley (14), Jason Dufner (17), Ian Poulter (18), and Bubba Watson (19).
Webb Simpson (21) also is playing a year after he, too, won the U.S. Open and kept his commitment to play in Cromwell.
But the tournament has a reputation for discovering new talent. The last three champions, including Leishman and Watson, have won their first PGA Tour title here.
"People know my name now," Leishman said. "No one ever knew who I was. I'd get here and the crowd was like, 'Who is this bloke here?' And now it's like, 'Go Leish or Go Marc.' So I think that's cool."
Hunter Mahan, who won his first title here in 2007, said it's a low-pressure event that invites new players to make a name for themselves and the veterans to have fun.
"When you come here, it's not quite as intense going into the tournament," he said. "You're a little more, I don't know, almost fluid, and you're just kind of more relaxed and you're just kind of ready to play."
But not every player is totally focused. Bradley, a New England native and a hockey fan, admitted he was just hoping for a late tee time on Thursday so he could stay up and watch his Boston Bruins play in the Stanley Cup Finals Wednesday night.
"I love the games so much, I can't miss them," he said. "I'm lucky I got 12:50 tomorrow. I can stay up and watch the game and sleep in and be totally fine."
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