“I’m going to miss the Cromwell fans, the fans of Connecticut coming out and supporting this event,” said pro golfer Tony Finau. “It’s one of my favorite events.”
Finau is one of the top-20 ranked players in the world. Fifteen of the 20 will be in Cromwell this week. Finau was the keynote speaker at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce kick-off breakfast. It is usually done in a hotel ballroom. This year, it was on Zoom. The tournament director says they had some big decision to make once the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“Typically it takes a year to plan one tournament,” said Travelers Championship Tournament Director Nathan Grube. “Then all of a sudden, we had 90 days to plan about five versions of what the Travelers Championship should look like.”
You will only get to see what it looks like on TV. There will be no fun zone, no concessions, no celebrity pro-am. Usually suites and pro-am spots are sold to sponsors for big bucks.
“We had none of those assets this year,” Grube said. “We had our sponsors, one after another, after another say to us, ‘We understand. We understand what you stand for, we understand the community impact. Here is our sponsorship fee. We’re going to give this to you so you can continue to support the charities.'”
The tournament always supports a lot of charities, but added a new one this year: 4-CT.
“Their mission is to fund Covid-19 relief efforts: food banks, child care workers, buying PPE,” explained Travelers’ Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Andy Besette.
Even without fans, putting on a professional sports event in a pandemic is difficult, and groundbreaking. The Travelers will be one of the first.
“The message that we’re sending to hundreds of countries and millions of people around the world is, this is what a community is capable of when they come together in absolutely difficult times to be able to pull something like this off,” said Grube.
The tournament starts Thursday, and Sports Team 8 will be there to cover it.