Defending champ Bubba Watson forgos Rio opening ceremonies to play Travelers

William S. Paxton, Special for USA TODAY Sports
12:04 a.m. EDT August 4, 2016

A chain restaurant that encourages people to gather and enjoy generous portions of Tex-Mex comfort foods might seem an unlikely setting for one of the world’s top golfers and tournament directors to meet.

But the laughter and conversation flowed freely around the table as Bubba Watson, his family and his caddie enjoyed a meal with several members of the Travelers Championship.

Forget about business, this dinner was meant for friends to kick back and have a good time before the start of last year’s tournament at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

“It was the best thing we ever did,” said Andy Bessette, Travelers executive vice president and chief administrative officer. “It was hilarious.”

The bond that Watson, who has won the tournament twice (2010, ’15), has developed with the PGA Tour stop sponsor over the years is not limited to him. When the insurance giant took over the event in 2007, its goal was to do more than just recruit the…

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