You may not realize it, but the Travelers Championship (formerly the Greater Hartford Open) in Cromwell is one of the longest-running events on the PGA Tour. Originally named the Insurance City Open, it was first held in 1952 and has hosted some of the sport’s most legendary names. It’s also been home to legendary names outside of golf. The event became the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open after the entertainer became a fixture in the Pro-Am.
So who are some of the legends who have taken home the Traveler’s trophy? You’ve probably heard of a few of them.
The legenary Arnold Palmer won for the second time in his career at the 1956 Insurance City Open (as the Travelers was then known). That win would set the stage for a terrific 1957 season that included four professional wins. He went on to capture the 1958 Masters title, and the rest as they say, is history.
Palmer would take home the Insurance City title in 1960, after also winning the Masters and the U.S. Open that year.
In all, he posted 62 career PGA wins and seven major championships. He was named PGA Player of the Year in 1960 and ’62 and was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
But perhaps his greatest accomplishment is mixing iced tea with lemonade. Now that, my friends, is visionary.
Slammin’ Sammy Snead captured the old Insurance City Open title in 1955, one year before Palmer won it.
The 1949 PGA Player of the Year would go on to win seven major championships, including an incredible run between ’49-54, when he won three Masters titles and a PGA championship.
Snead finished his career with 82 wins and was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
He won the PGA Tour Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.
The charismatic and clutch Trevino won the Greater Hartford Open just months after capturing the British Open title in 1972. Four of his 29 career wins came that year.
The Hall of Famer won six major titles, and earned the PGA Player of the Year award in 1971. He ranks 19th on the all-time wins list. Trevino has also put together an impressive career on the Champions Tour, winning 29 matches.
He’s also remembered by the younger generation (or maybe just me) for his non-speaking role in “Happy Gilmore.”
Azinger won the Sammy Davis Jr. GHO in 1987 and again in ’89. He was one of the best golfers of the late 80’s and early 90’s, spending almost 300 weeks in the top 10 of the world golf rankings between 1988-94.
Azinger won the PGA Tour Player of the Year in ’87. He also won the PGA Championship in 1993, and after beating cancer, Azinger won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2000.
‘The Shark’ remains one of the most popular golfers in the history of the game, having captivated golf fans in his home of Australia as well as the States.
Norman spent 331 weeks as the world’s number 1 golfer in the ’80s and ’90s, and won two major championships. He was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2001.
The Shark captured the Canon Greater Hartford Open title in 1995.
The lefthander is another of the sport’s most popular golfers, with a cult following that relates to his “everyman” approach to the game. Mickelson has arguably been the second-best golfer of the Tiger Woods era, recording 41 career PGA Tour wins.
He’s won four major titles, and finished second seven times. Mickelson won back-to-back GHO titles in 2001-02. He was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.
The four-time Travelers Championship winner had more success in Cromwell than any other player in history.
Casper won the Insurance City Open in 1963 and ’65, won the event when it was called the Greater Hartford Open in ’68, and won it again in ’73. His success in Cromwell mirrors his long, consistent career as a pro. Casper posted 51 career PGA Tour wins over 19 years from 1956-75. He won the PGA Player of the Year award in 1966 and ’70.
Casper is also a three-time major champion. He won the Masters in 1970, eleven years after his first major title in the 1959 U.S. Open.
Watson became an instant star after he captured the 2012 Masters title in dramatic, thrilling fashion. His chip shot from the woods on the 10th hole in a sudden-death playoff with Louis Oosthuizen will forever be remembered as one of the clutch shots in the history of golf.
Bubba picked up his first career win at the Travelers Championship in 2010, and won twice in 2011 before nailing it with his Masters performance in 2012.
Other Notable winners: Stewart Cink (2008), Brad Faxon (2005).