CROMWELL — Over the past six months, John Huh has grown comfortable seeing his name on a PGA Tour leaderboard.
So much so that when the he jumped from a tie for 120th after the first round to second overall at the Valero Texas Open, he barely broke a sweat.
That's supposed to happen. Pro golfers make moves, and that's exactly what he did.
The nerves only arrived when he was paired with his idol, Ernie Els, at the Honda Classic earlier this year. That was the difficult part.
"I use to watch him on TV when I was a kid," Huh said before his Travelers Championship practice round at TPC River Highlands on Monday. "It's really hard to believe I played with him after looking forward to playing him for so long. It was a different feeling."
For Huh, it has been that kind of year. The New York native, who spent time in Korea as a child, has gone from just another rookie to standing 15th in the FedEx point standings.
In his first 16 tour events, Huh, 22, has finished in the top 10 four times, the top 25 eight times and missed the cut just three times. "I have to be really pleased with what I've done so far but it's only half way through the season so hopefully I can play better," he said.
Despite the guarded expectations, Huh has reason to think this week could be another good tournament. He enters the Travelers ranked seventh in driving accuracy (68.32 percent) and 22nd in scoring average (70.20).
"As long as my accuracy is going well, I think I can always be in contention," Huh said.
Simpson Still On Board
Tournament director Nathan Grube answered before the question was asked: "I talked to Webb Simpson's people and he's coming."
Having theU.S. Openchampion in the field is great news for the tournament. Simpson had committed earlier this year. But there was concern he'd withdraw after he had won the U.S. Open on Sunday.
Simpson tees off at 1:10 p.m. at the first hole in the Pro-Am on Wednesday.
Ishikawa Likes It
Ryo Ishikawa was impressed with the TPC River Highlands after his first visit. "Very wide practice range and very challenging course," he said.
The 21-year-old Japanese phenom, who received a sponsor's exemption, shot 2-under par on the back nine. He was pleased with that after missing the cut in the U.S. Open. "I had four three putts in the second round [when he shot 78]," Ishikawa said.
The Travelers Championship will be his fifth consecutive tournament. Beyond his game, Ishikawa, the youngest player (15) to win a pro tournament in Japan, also is known for donating more than $1 million to a charity to aid tsunami victims last year. "Children lost their parents. That's why I helped," he said.
Marshall Switches Roles
More than a decade ago, Ian Marshall arrived at the Canon Greater Hartford Open, with one purpose — to study.
"I use to come every year," he said. "This was what you did as a junior golfer in the summer."
Someday, he said to himself, if he just watched the pros enough he would get his chance at the trophy.
That day comes Thursday.
Marshall, now the Watertown Golf Club head pro, will play in his first Travelers Championship. He qualified after winning the tour exemption designated to the Connecticut Section PGA player who won the Spring PGA Stroke Play event in May.
Marshall loves the Travelers Championship, just as he did 12 years ago. But this time he competes against his idols. "I'm in the locker room and I'm looking around and thinking about all the past champions," he said. "This is exciting." ... Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, Carl Paulson and Jimmy Walker withdrew from the tournament. Roland Thatcher, Steven Bowditch and Matt Jones replaced them. ... Masters champion Bubba Watson, the 2010 Travelers Championship winner, threw out the first pitch at the Orioles-Mets game Monday night. ... Grube said about 30 U.S. Open players and 70 of their guests rode the charter flight from San Francisco to Connecticut Monday. ... Gov.Dannel P. Malloy spoke during the opening ceremonies on the first tee.
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