Jordan Spieth was playing TPC River Highlands for the first time in competition and liked it right from the start.
Spieth, ranked sixth in the world, birdied three of the first four holes to kick-start a 7-under-par 63 that gave him a one-stroke lead over Johnson Wagner and Brett Stegmaier after the first round of the Travelers Championship at Cromwell, Conn.
“Being 3-under through four (holes) it helps you walk a little easier, it helps kind of the shots you are playing throughout the round,” said the 23-year-old Spieth, who claimed his ninth PGA Tour victory earlier this season at Pebble Beach. “You don’t feel like you have to take as many chances and I was able to play away from pins when I was in a little bit of trouble.
“Got started nicely on the first (with a 15-foot birdie putt). Saw a putt go in and that was big for me. Really haven’t been seeing a lot of putts go in early in rounds to kind of feed off of them. Was able to do that today. Been striking the ball really well.”
Stegmaier, 33, who has never won in his pro career, birdied four holes in a row through No. 16 and made his only bogey of the day on his last hole, No. 9, to shoot 64, which three-time PGA Tour winner Wagner matched with a 14-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole.
Graeme DeLaet of Canada sank a six-foot eagle putt on the sixth hole in a 65 and is tied for fourth with Troy Merritt, who birdied four of the first seven holes.
Xander Schauffele of San Diego carded a 66 and was in a huge tie for sixth with Beau Hossler of Mission Viejo, Kevin Na of Diamond Bar, Fabian Gomez of Argentina, Hudson Swafford, Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Brian Harman, Boo Weekley, Tom Hoge, Matt Every, Scott Piercy, Mark Hubbard and Daniel Summerhays.
Third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is tied for 19th at 67, fourth-ranked Jason Day of Australia totaled 72 and is in a tie for 111th that includes defending champion Martin Laird of Scotland.