Back nine flurry gives Chez Reavie lead at 2019 Travelers Championship
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Back nine flurry gives Chez Reavie lead at 2019 Travelers Championship



CROMWELL, Conn. -- TPC River Highlands has seen plenty of low scores over the years, and Saturday was no different as Chez Reavie came home in 7-under-par 28 to shoot 63 and take a six-shot lead through 54 holes at the Travelers Championship.

Reavie is currently one of the hottest players on Tour and is coming off his best career finish in a major after finishing in a tie for third at the US Open. The 37-year-old has finished in the top 20 in four of his last five events.

Reavie made the turn trailing by six shots after shooting even-par 35 on the front nine, but things changed quickly on the back side as the putts started to drop. Reavie made just over 88 feet of putts and gained more than two shots on the field Saturday.

“I was able to just keep plugging along and make a few putts and the rest is history. I kind of caught fire there at the end,” Reavie said.

The run of good form is the latest in a two-year run of starts and stops for Reavie, who is looking for his second PGA Tour win and his first since his rookie season in 2008.

Reavie credited his work with swing coach Mark Blackburn as one of the reasons for his continued improvement. Reavie has improved his FedEx Cup points finish each season since he started working with Blackburn in 2016, including tying a career-best 35th-place finish last season.

“It’s been great. I’ve been improving every year for the last three or four years,” Reavie said. “I’ve seen gradual improvement every year. That makes days like today shooting 7-under on the back nine very comfortable, just because I’ve been up on the leaderboard a lot the last couple years, a lot more than I have been before. So I’m more comfortable in that position.”

Local favorite Keegan Bradley is Reavie’s closest challenger. The Vermont native had the lead alone early in the back nine but never quite got it going Saturday. Bradley bogeyed the par-5 sixth -- the easiest hole on the golf course -- and drove it in the water at the reachable par-4 15th, leading to another bogey.

Bradley drew the largest crowds of the day and will hopefully summon plenty of roars tomorrow as he looks to chase down Reavie.

Bradley sits in a tie for second with 36-hole leader Zach Sucher, who led by five at the turn after going out in 31 but played his next three holes in five over par and saw his lead quickly evaporate.

Sucher bogeyed the 10th after a wayward tee shot and double-bogeyed the par-3 11th hole after his tee shot plugged in the bunker. Another double bogey at the 12th left Sucher at 1 over par on the day as he finished with a 71.

“That was a rough three holes. I thought I made my putt on 9. To go from thinking you’ll be 5 under at the turn to all of a sudden being over par through 12 was rough,” Sucher said. “Three straight holes in a row I hit shots that weren’t that far off all behind the lip.”

Sucher is playing on a major medical exemption and has just two more events to regain his status on Tour. That makes every shot important, no matter the outcome of the tournament.

“I’m outside the top 200 (in the FedEx Cup standings) right now,” Sucher said. “My goal is still to win, but I know how far a second- or third-place finish would go.”

Former world No. 1 Jason Day is in a tie for fourth at 9-under total but sits seven shots behind Reavie. Despite the large deficit, the risk-reward nature of the golf course, particularly on the back nine, could lead to a compelling finish.

“That margin can dwindle pretty quickly, especially around a golf course like this,” Day said. “If we get some tough breezes tomorrow, Northwesterly, it's going to set up for some good golf, I think.”

About the author

Peter Santo

Peter Santo

Peter Santo is a journalism student at Emerson College in Boston. He worked for the student newspaper at Auburn University covering football, basketball, and golf and has also worked at the Boston Herald, Boston Globe and The Washington Times. Follow him on Twitter @PeterSanto29.