The playoff that looked like it might never end, eight holes and 2½ hours, was finally halted with a holed birdie putt by Harris English that gave the 31-year-old the Travelers Championship on Sunday for his second victory of the season and his fourth career win.
English shot a final-round 5-under 65 and Hickok recorded a 67, each posting 13-under 267 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. English won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii to begin the calendar year.
It was the second-longest playoff in PGA Tour history (See the list of longest playoffs here), all the holes were tied with pars until the end. Along the way, the playoff was extended hole after hole with a hat full of narrowly missed birdies and clutch par putts by both English and Hickok.
“You just never know when a win is coming,” English said. “We hung in there. I knew today coming in two back, shoot 3-, 4-, 5-under and we’d have a chance.
“It was a battle on the back nine. My putter kept me in it and the playoff as well. I made some solid putts and was very confident. I put some extra work in on the putting this morning because I knew how crucial some of the putts were going to be, and it came through for me.
Both players ended regulation play with birdies on the 72nd hole. English made about a 24-footer to take a one-shot lead and Hickok, playing in the final pairing, holed a putt just inside 9 feet to force the extended playoff.
Hickok could have completely transformed his career if he had found a way to win but the runner-up finish will go a long way toward enabling the 29-year-old to lock up his playing privileges for next season without having to endure the Web.com Finals at season’s end.
“I learn(ed) that I belong,” Hickok said. “You can always tell yourself that, but until you're -- I could have easily won today. It's just keep my head up, keep my chin up and take what I learned from today and keep battling and go next week and see what happens.”
English said, “Kramer is a hell of a competitor. We were both fighting to the end and that's what you want.”
English, who becomes the fifth multiple winner on the PGA Tour this year, had been trending in his last two outings. At the Palmetto Championship at Congaree, he was in the final pairing on Sunday with 54-hole leader Chesson Hadley. English started the day four shots behind Hadley but as Hadley slipped in the final round, English tied Hadley for the lead on the front nine.
However, English came undone on the back nine with four bogeys and a closing double for an incoming 5-over 40 and a 75.
“I was bummed how I finished at Palmetto,” English said. I feel like I was in a really good spot and just didn't hit the shots coming down the stretch and missed some putts. Kind of hurt a little bit, but I came back and finished well at the U.S. Open last week and came into this week came with a lot of confidence.”
At the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, English climbed 11 spots on the leaderboard with a final-round 68 to finish third.
Bubba Watson, a three-time Travelers champion, was headed for a fourth title when he unexpectedly came unraveled on the final stretch. The 42-year-old Watson held a one-shot lead at 13-under on the 14th tee and went 6-over in the final five holes to finish with a 3-over 73.
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