Denny McCarthy has never won on the PGA Tour, but you wouldn’t have known it on Thursday.
The 30-year-old McCarthy posted a bogey-free, 10-under-par 60 to take a two-stroke lead over Adam Scott of Australia and Keegan Bradley after the first round of the 72nd Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
McCarthy nearly holed his approach shot for an eagle and a 59 as he finished on the ninth hole, before making the five-foot putt for his 10th birdie.
“I knew exactly where I was and decided to give 59 a shot with a 7-iron from 170 yards,” said McCarthy, who lost to Viktor Hovland or Norway on the first hole of a playoff in the Memorial Tournament early this month and tied for 20th in the U.S. Open last week. “I didn’t hit the ball as well as I wanted, but got a great bounce and it came pretty close. It was nice to make the putt.
“I didn’t play great last week, but scored pretty well. But, I was right in my comfort zone all day today and got some momentum. I just dream of playing like that every day. The greens were very receptive, so you could be aggressive and go for birdies.
“I did that all day and made a bunch of them.”
McCarthy, who has won four times as a pro including the 2018 Korn Ferry Tour Championship, birdied five of his six first six holes after starting on the back nine, before making three birdies in a row through No. 12 among his five more coming home.
Scott, who has won 31 times as a pro including the 2013 Masters, collected 11 birdies including six on the back nine and was tied for the lead with McCarthy before hitting his second shot into water to make a double-bogey 6 on the 17th hole in his 62.
“I think if I made eagle on 15 (a 59) was really right on,” said Scott, whose last victory came in the 2020 Genesis Invitational at Riviera. “I didn’t really (think about it). I was just trying to just keep doing what I was doing out there. It was all going really nicely and I wasn’t thinking too much about anything today.
“I don’t really have the answer for (what happened on No. 17). I can only speculate. The wind was just moving around a little bit the last few holes between kind of east and northeast and north and no wind, and (it) felt like there was none really when I was hitting. But the shot came up well short, so maybe got caught in something, because the next shot with the same club went 15 yards further. So, yeah, I really don’t know.
“It‘s a shame, but it’s hard to be disappointed with 62.”
Bradley, playing what he considers a home game because he is a native of New England, played in the morning wave and birdied the first five holes after starting on the back nine before adding four more bogeys against a single bogey in his 62.
Said Bradley, who is playing in his 13th consecutive appearance in the Travelers: “This is a special week for me. I don’t get to have my family out here a lot anymore and having them out here is an advantage for me. I was able to get out (of Los Angeles after the U.S. Open) on Monday and I got here early and flew my coach here. We got in some great work Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
“I wasn’t thinking about (59) a lot, but I certainly was going to try to do it.”
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler had seven birdies in a bogey-free 63 and is in solo fourth, while Shane Lowry of Ireland had five birdies in a 64 and is tied for fifth with Chez Reavie, who birdied the last hole in another bogey-free 64, and rookie Eric Cole, who had three birdies on each nine in one more bogey-free 64.
Fourth-seeded Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA birdied four of his first six holes en route to a 65 that included a single bogey and is in a big tie for eighth that includes Kevin Streelman, Kelly Kraft, Brendon Todd, Cam Davis of Australia, Zac Blair, Kevin Wu of Taiwan and Sungjae Im of South Korea.
Second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain had three late birdies in a 67 and is in a tie for 28th that includes fifth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway, who had three straight birdies on the back nine, and eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, who made three consecutive birdies through No. 17.
Third-ranked Rory McIlroy made the first hole in one of his PGA Tour career from 214 yards on the eighth hole in a 68 and is in a tie for 46th that includes sixth-seeded Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who had three birdies on each nine, while ninth-seeded Max Homa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal made only two birdies in a 72 and is tied for 121st.
For complete results and second-round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard