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Rory's time off 'exactly what he should be doing,' Monahan says

Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images Sport / Getty

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — No hard feelings, Rory.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said he understands why Rory McIlroy withdrew from the Travelers Championship — the final signature event on the calendar — to recover from a late-Sunday meltdown at the U.S. Open.

“Sometimes you just need to focus on what you need,” Monahan said on Wednesday, a day before the tournament at TPC River Highlands outside of Hartford. “And that’s what he’s doing and that’s exactly what he should be doing because that’s what he thinks is the right path.”

McIlroy twice had a one-shot lead at Pinehurst No. 2 before he bogeyed three of the last four holes, missing a pair of par putts from inside 4 feet. Instead of McIlroy’s fifth major championship — and his first in 10 years — Bryson DeChambeau claimed his second.

On Monday, McIlroy said on social media that he would be taking three weeks off to “build myself back up.” He is planning to return July 10-13 for the Scottish Open, where he is the defending champion, followed by the British Open the following week at Royal Troon in Scotland.

Without him, there will be 71 players teeing off on Thursday in the limited field, no-cut signature event at the TPC River Highlands. McIlroy is the only one in the top eight in the world ranking or the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings who will miss it.

“You look at the quality of the field that we have this week, we’re going to have a great Travelers Championship,” Monahan said. “And I’m looking forward to getting Rory back in Scotland.”

Enemy territory

The Travelers Championship is the one week of the year that Keegan Bradley has bragging rights over world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

Not only is Bradley the defending champion at the TPC River Highlands, but the native New Englander can remind his Texan rival how the NBA Finals turned out. Bradley’s Boston Celtics beat Scheffler’s Dallas Mavericks in a Game 5 clincher on Monday night.

Asked about arriving in Celtics country so soon after Boston won its unprecedented 18th NBA championship, Scheffler joked, “Do I have to answer that question?” Scheffler said he hasn’t heard any razzing on the course but one fan asked him to sign a Celtics hat.

He declined.

“I don’t blame him,” Bradley said. “I wouldn’t want to either if I was a Dallas fan.”

Bradley grew up in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts as a fervid Boston sports fan and married the niece of baseball Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk. At a Fenway Park news conference last fall to introduce the local franchise in the new, high-tech TGL circuit, he described the thrill of seeing the Red Sox clubhouse and giving Englishman Tyrrell Hatton a tour of the ballpark.

The Travelers presented Bradley with one of Fenway's wooden seats at the tournament’s media day in April.

“It’s one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever gotten — probably the coolest gift I’ve ever gotten in my life,” he said. “To have a seat from Fenway Park in your house is pretty spectacular.”

Paris preview

The Travelers will feature 22 players out of the 60 who have qualified for the Paris Olympics, including all four Americans: Scheffler, defending gold medalist Xander Schauffele, Wyndham Clark and Collin Morikawa.

Others include Ludvig Aberg (Sweden), Viktor Hovland (Norway), Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) and Britain's Tommy Fleetwood and Matthew Fitzpatrick. Although they will be playing for their countries, the Olympics is a 72-hole, stroke-play tournament will award medals to the individuals with the low scores.

“There is no team aspect of it. It would be cool if there was,” said Morikawa, who finished fourth in Tokyo, losing in a seven-man, sudden-death playoff for the bronze medal on the fourth extra hole. “Caddies are definitely going to scout the course together, they’re going to do you all the prep together, a lot of sharing information, just as if it were a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup kind of in that sense. But when it comes down to it on Thursday, it’s our event, it’s our own individual event.”

That doesn’t mean there’s no patriotism involved.

“I’m not necessarily going to go out and try to play too many practice rounds with somebody from a different country,” said Scheffler, who will be making his Olympic debut and confessed he hadn’t really thought about it. “We’re trying to go over there and earn a medal for the USA so it will probably be a closer-knit circle as we go over there.”

The rankings to determine Olympic spots were finalized with the conclusion of the U.S. Open. Countries are limited to two players, unless their third- and fourth-best players are ranked within the top 15 in the world.

Golf was in the Olympics early in the last century before it was dropped from the program for more than 100 years. It returned in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, making this the third go-round.

Scheffler said he is excited to be a part of the Summer Games and check out other sports, including basketball and tennis. He also wanted to make a trip to the Olympic Village to watch the other athletes train.

“I grew up playing a ton of sports, and so to be able to see the best in the world at their craft would be pretty special,” he said.

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