The best field in the Travelers Championship history put on a show in the first round at TPC River Highlands led by a 60 by Mackenzie Hughes and followed closely by Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland who opened with 7-under 63s.
Hughes had a 40-foot birdie putt on his final hole for a 59 that came up short.
“This morning the conditions were quite perfect,” Hughes said. “Little to no wind and kind of got off to somewhat of just a slow start, nothing special. 1-under through 4, and then hit 14 and started to kind of get on a bit of a roll there, rolled in a couple 15-footers. And then, yeah, made the turn and was 6-under, and at that point was obviously feeling quite good about it, and birdied 2, and that’s kind of when it first dawned on me that 59 was kind of in play.”
After barely making the cut last week at the RBC Heritage, world No. 1 McIlroy was on fire playing alongside Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau. McIlroy’s 63 included six birdies and an eagle.
“I deemed the last two weeks as successes,” McIlory said. “I hadn’t been to Colonial before. I hadn’t been to Hilton Head in over a decade, so if anything they were like practice weeks for me, and the fact I went out and had to shoot 65 on Friday last week to make the cut just to get an extra two days to get some reps in and practice, I felt like that was a pretty big success.”
Playing in the same pairing with McIlroy, Mickelson fired a 64 in his first round since turning 50. He also received the good news that he is in the field for the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in September.
“That worked out great,” Mickelson said. “To be able to know that I have a chance to go back to Winged Foot and give it another shot. As long as I’m playing well enough to compete to earn my way into the field, then I want to play and keep trying to win that tournament.”
DeChambeau had top 10s at the Charles Schwab Challenge (T3) and RBC Heritage (T8) coming into the Travelers Championship. TPC River Highlands being more open should allow for DeChambeau to swing away.
“I definitely feel like I can let it go a lot more,” DeChambeau said about TPC River Highlands. “I feel like it suits me pretty well, and hopefully I can take advantage of those holes that I can hit it really far on.”