After an US Open that was unfriendly with low scores – only three players shot under par – the Travelers Championship was just the pick-me-up that the PGA Tour needed.
A whopping 75 players – nearly 50% of the field – shot a score under par in the tournament’s first round at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut on Thursday.
Seventy-four of them will being Friday chasing Brendan Steele, who fired off an 8-under 62 to lead the tournament by one stroke over fellow Americans Bud Cauley and Ryan Moore.
The 31-year-old Steele, ranked 90th in the world, set the tone early with an eagle 2 on No. 1 and a birdie on No. 2. He was 5-under at the turn and added three straight birdies on 11, 12 and 13.
Cauley started out just the opposite, 1-over after two holes before recording four birdies over the next seven, and adding an eagle 2 on No. 15.
Moore looked like he was in for a rocky start, with a sequence of birdie, eagle, bogey on No. 5-7, but he had nothing but pars and birdies the rest of the way en route to his 63.
Three of the top names int he field are tied for ninth at 5-under, three strokes back: K.J. Choi, Brandt Snedeker and Sergio Garcia.
Choi looked to be among the leaders in the clubhouse through 14, sitting at 6-under following four straight birdies. But he bogeyed No. 15, bounced back for two more birdies to get to 7-under, then closed with an ugly double bogey on No. 18, was one of of the more birdie-friendly holes for the rest of the field.
Garcia, ranked No. 22 in the world, shot nine straight pars to start the round, then drilled six birdies in eight holes on the back nine.
Included in a glut at 4-under, which is a tie for 16th through 18 holes, are Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson. The Masters champion Bubba Watson is at 3-under, tied for 28th.