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Chris Tallman confident in game ahead of PGA Tour debut at Travelers


Staff Writer
Published: 6/19/2019 7:49:38 PM

There hasn’t been much time for Chris Tallman to really think about the tee shot he’ll hit Thursday morning at 8:35.

In the month or so since he qualified for this week’s PGA Tour Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, Tallman has been busy preparing for a career move. His last day as the PGA Professional at Cold Spring Country Club in Belchertown was Saturday and he’ll start his new job as the general manager at Orchards Golf Club in his hometown of South Hadley shortly after returning from Connecticut.

In between is his PGA Tour debut, the only guaranteed chance the Holyoke resident will have to compete against the best in the world. He arrived Sunday to start practicing for the event and held an early morning practice round with fellow South Hadley native Richy Werenski on Tuesday.

He said he’s calm right now in anticipation of the big moment when he goes off the first tee with Kyle Jones and Chris Thompson on Thursday.

“It’s always been a dream to play in a Tour event, so it’s all really exciting to me,” said Tallman said after his practice round Tuesday. “It’s all settling in now that I’m out there practicing with some of the top players in the world and getting out on the course and playing the course.

“Once I get out there on the first tee on Thursday, I’m sure it will be a little bit different environment. The situation in a Tour event with all the fans will be new to me, so how I’ll react and the nerves that I’ll experience at that point in time, I won’t know until I’m out there.”

While his emotions are at bay, Tallman has taken advantage of the softer conditions from the rain that has passed through the area in recent days. He said he hit all but one fairway in regulation and 16 of 18 greens during his Tuesday practice round, commenting on how little roll players are getting on tee shots and how receptive the greens were during the round.

It has given Tallman some confidence that he can at least be competitive against the field of PGA Tour pros.

“I’m striking the ball well, I’m hitting the ball well off the tee, I’m putting myself into good positions to hit some shots into the greens,” said Tallman, who will have close friend and Springfield Country Club pro E.J. Altobello on his bag for the week. “It’s really going to be a matter of making some putts. If I continue to hit the ball well, just getting a few putts to drop will allow me to post some good numbers. All-around my game has been pretty steady.”

The only competitive golf Tallman has played since winning the Connecticut Section PGA Spring Stroke Play Championship at GreatHorse to qualify for the Travelers last month was the Massachusetts Open on June 10 and 11. He missed the cut by one shot in that tournament, but the tournament experience was part of how Tallman was planning to practice during his limited free time.

He said he is practicing more than he normally would, but he’s not changing his mental approach for this event than his normal mindset for any other tournament.

“My goals from day to day is to post a score under par,” Tallman said. “I think the cut over the past few years has been around 2-under so if I can post a round one or round two score under par, I think I’ll be in a good spot. I’m trying to treat it like any other tournament, I want to go out there and play the best I can play and not make any big mistakes and try to stay in it.”

The field Tallman will be competing against features nine former champions of the event and half of the world’s top 10. However, the star power is not going to affect Tallman or his preparation. He said he kept the chat with Werenski — who tees off at 8:15 a.m with Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Charley Hoffman — to a minimum while they both went through their processes of scouting TPC River Highlands.

At the end of the day, Tallman said, he’s on the course for the same reason the other 155 players.

“I’m not a fan, I’m a competitor,” Tallman said.

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