Richy Werenski battles weather to finish 4 under and make cut at Travelers Championship

  • The crowds brave the wet weather on Friday during the second round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. AP

Staff Writer
Published: 6/21/2019 9:42:12 PM

CROMWELL, Conn. — Wind and rain threatened Richy Werenski’s place in the Travelers Championship.

The South Hadley native bogeyed back-to-back holes on No. 4 and No. 5 to slip back to 1-under par and below the cut line.

“It played a lot tougher today. I felt like I hit a lot of really good shots and just misjudged the wind,” Werenski said. “I didn’t hit any terrible, terrible golf shots, just missed a little bit and they weren’t in the easiest places.”

The cut hovered at 2 under the entire day, and it occupied a place in Werenski’s brain. He thought it might come in at 3 under, where he started the day.

“I knew where I was at,” Werenski said.

He didn’t dissolve in the weather. Instead, Werenski battled to close his round with three birdies in the next 13 holes to finish with a 1-under 69. That put him at 4 under for the tournament and tied for 36th with 10 other golfers, including major winner Justin Thomas.

“It’s a battle, you don’t want to give up or give in or try too hard,” Werenski said. “You just want to keep on the course. You just keep telling yourself that you’re gonna get some birdie opportunities coming up.”

He’s seven shots back of Zach Sucher, who shot a 5-under 65 to take sole possession of the lead at 11 under, escaping a logjam at the top of the leaderboard after Day 1. Big names like Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickleson did not make the cut.

Werenski started to turn around with a birdie on the ninth hole. He dropped his approach shot 10 feet, 3 inches from the hole and sank the putt to return to 2 under at the turn.

“It was good to see a putt go in. I’m hitting really good putts, did a lot of putting work last week,” Werenski said. “I feel like I’m starting the ball where I want to, and I just need to match the line and the speed on the greens and figure that out, but that’ll come.”

The weather cleared up as he made the turn. The sun came out, and Werenski only had to deal with occasional wind gusts.

He built more momentum with a birdie on the par-5 13th. His second shot went over the green, and he chipped back to just over 10 feet. Werenski made the putt and evened his score for the day.

His best shot of the day came off the tee at No. 16, a 169-yard par 3. Werenski hit his tee shot to 4 feet from the hole and converted the birdie putt.

“It felt like some putts dropped for me. I don’t feel like I played much differently (than on the front nine),” Werenski said. “I didn’t hit it in as many bad places — ball striking tightened up on the back side. I wasn’t left with like 6- to 10-footers for par on the back nine.”

He saved his position on the leaderboard by scrambling on No. 18. After Werenski’s tee shot landed outside the gallery ropes to the right, he chipped to the wall of a bunker about 33 feet from the hole. He chipped to within 4 feet and calmly made the par putt.

Werenski will tee off for the third round at 10:15 a.m. Saturday with Tom Hoge.

“The weather’s going to be really good. I think I’m hitting well and putting it good,” Werenski said. “I think I’m going to match up the speed and get these breaks down and hopefully start making more putts.”

While his tournament will continue, fellow South Hadley native Chris Tallman did not make the cut at 14-over par. He qualified for the tournament by winning the Connecticut Section PGA Spring Stroke Play Championship and made his PGA Tour debut Thursday.

Tallman started on the back nine and finished with a 6-over 76 on Friday. That section of the course gave him trouble for the second day in a row, as he finished with double bogeys on No. 12 and No. 17.

“The back nine hurt me,” Tallman said.

He did mix in a birdie on No. 13. Tallman reached the green in two shots then narrowly missed a nearly 63-foot eagle putt long and to the left. He sank a 5½-foot comebacker for birdie.

Tallman’s most memorable shot of the tournament, he said, closed out the back nine — his front nine — on No. 18. He drained a 40-foot, 6-inch put to save par after his tee shot landed in the bunker.

“I save it for par and the gallery went nuts,” Tallman said.

He fared better on the front nine with two birdies and three bogeys. Tallman followed the script with a tee shot in the middle of the fairway on No. 4 then put his approach less than 10 feet from the hole. Making the putt put him at 4 over for the round.

Tallman also closed the tournament with a birdie on No. 9. After his tee shot traveled 268 yards to the fairway, Tallman and his caddie E.J. Altobello planned the approach shot while the group ahead of them putted.

“We had a little bit of time to look at the shot and see what the wind was doing. I hit the shot that we planned out,” Tallman said. “The wind was blowing hard off the left, so I hit a little draw to hold it off.”

Now Tallman has a rare weekend off. He plans to spend it with his family and fiancée Kyleigh Wells — he got engaged Wednesday night — before starting his new job as the general manager at Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley on Monday. Tallman was the head pro and GM at Cold Spring Country Club in Belchertown.

“This whole month has been a lot of things happening, and they’re all great things. We’re going to soak it all in. This is an awesome experience. I didn’t play the way I wanted to play, but just being out here was pretty cool,” Tallman said. “All the support from my fiancée, my family, (club) members is unbelievable. I get goosebumps thinking about it. All these people came out in all the weather that we had this week to support me, and that’s something really special.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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