As the Travelers Championship Celebrity Pro-Am day was underway at TPC River Highlands Wednesday morning, defending Fredrik Jacobson was arriving.
Jacobson, set to tee off with his Pro-Am group at noon, met the media for a brief press conference. He is coming off a strong performance at the U.S. Open, shooting a 6-over par 286 for a tie for 15th at the Olympic Club.
His back has been bothering him this year, but he was healthy in San Francisco.
"I thought [Olympic Club] was fun," Jacobson said. "It was difficult in the aspect that you had to hit difficult shots every time."
Returning to Cromwell as the defending champion is significant, Jacobson said.
"It feels good, obviously, coming back to Hartford," Jacobson said. "I've got a lot of good memories from last year.... It's just fun to come back to a place where I obviously reached one of my milestones last year."
Still, there hasn"t been much fuss made about the reigning champion since he arrived in Connecticut. He traveled from the West Coast Monday, spent Tuesday working out and doing laundry, and hit the course Wednesday.
"It wasn't too fancy," Jacobson said of his first full day in Connecticut. "Took a day off."
On the course, the group with the biggest following had the best day. J.B. Holmes' group, featuring actor Bill Murray, former NBA player Scott Burrell and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad, came in at 18-under par 52 and led on a hot and humid day.
Murray, a fan favorite, entertained the crowd and engaged fans. Fans also followed UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma, who left the course around the 13th and was treated in the medical tent. Auriemma walked to his car and was driven home.
The leader from the morning groups was Bo Van Pelt at 17-under 53. Van Pelt's group featured UConn associate head coach George Blaney and Quinnipiace coach Tom Moore.
Rory Sabbatini's group came in at 16-under 54, one stroke ahead of Notah Begay III, Zach Johnson and Bryce Molder. 2010 Travelers winner and fan favorite Bubba Watson led his group to a 14-under 56, tying Brian Gay's group and Blake Adams' group for fourth among the early finishers.
Besides Jacobson, notable PGA players on the course in the afternoon include Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington, U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, and 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley.
Watson, already a fan favorite, said he expects more attention in Cromwell in the wake of his Masters victory.
"They're just different, the distractions," Watson said. "You know, I won nthe Master, so definitely more fans, more things to sign, more media attention."
Temperatures are expected to hit the mid-90s in the afternoon. The tournament begins Thursday, which is expected to be another hot, sunny day in Cromwell.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun