Second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland keeps going low and putting himself high on leaderboards.
The 33-year-old McIlroy (pictured), despite battling a cold, carded a bogey-free, 8-under-par 62 and is tied for the lead with J.T. Poston after the first round of the 70th Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
“(My) energy levels are OK,” said McIlroy, who has finished in the top 10 in five of his last six tournaments and has won twice this season. “I’m feeling a little under the weather, but it’s just concentration at this point. I’ve got three more rounds left (in the Travelers) until I have a couple of weeks off to prepare for the Open Championship. I’m going to put everything into those three rounds.
“I like coming here the week after the U.S. Open (where he tied for fifth). It sort of gives you an opportunity to shoot low scores and get after it, and that’s nice. It’s like the anti-U.S. Open here. It’s like U.S. Open rehab coming here. You’re like, oh, I can actually make some birdies.”
McIlroy, who won the RBC Canadian Open two weeks ago, collected five birdies on the front nine including a 47-foot putt on the seventh hole, and added three more coming home, sinking a 31-footer at No. 13.
Poston started on the back nine and after making a birdie on the 11th hole, he added five more in a row through No. 17, and had two on his last three holes, including a 17-footer on the ninth hole to equal McIlroy’s bogey-free 62.
“It was just one of those easy rounds said Poston, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2019 Wyndham Championship. “It was just one of those days when I hit a lot of good shots, gave myself plenty of birdie chances and made some putts. I actually had some other good chances that I missed.
“I just took it one hole at a time and it was nice to capitalize on some of the opportunities that I had, but there’s a lot of golf left to play and I just want to keep on giving myself those chances. We’re not even halfway there yet and I hope I can have three more good rounds.”
Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, the 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist, shot a bogey-free 63 and is tied for third with Martin Laird of Scotland, who also played bogey free, while sixth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA had a bogey-free 64 and is tied for fifth with Charles Howell III and Webb Simpson, who both also played bogey-free.
Said Schauffele: “Mid-teens to high teens have won this tournament. If you finish in the high-teens, you’re in a pretty good spot for the week. If the course stays soft, it may be lower than that for the week.”
Cam Davis of Australia birdied four of the first nine holes en route to a 65 and is tied for eighth with Matthew NeSmith, who had four birdies on the back nine, while defending champion Harris English wound up at 66 and is in a tie for 10th with Wyndham Clark, Hank Lebioda, William McGirt and Keith Mitchell.
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler is tied for 30th after a 68, ninth-ranked Sam Burns finished at 70 and is tied for 69th and 11th-ranked Jordan Spieth, who won the 2017 Travelers, is tied for 148th at 75.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html