With scores going low at the TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell, Conn., no one could keep pace with Charley Hoffman's nine-under 61.
Hoffman holds a one-stroke advantage over Hunter Mahan after an exciting first round at the Travelers Championship.
Coming a week after the U.S. Open at the Merion Golf Club humbled the tour pros, this easier course and ideal scoring conditions had to be a welcomed sight.
Check out the leaderboard, and then I'll recap the first round of what promises to be an exciting tournament.
Travelers Championship Round 1 Leaderboard
|1||Charley Hoffman ||-9|
Hunter Mahan Sets Early Pace
After starting in the final group of the U.S. Open in the final round but finishing in a tie for fourth, it would have been understandable if Mahan didn't come out to start this round with the focus needed to play at a high lever.
That was far from the case. Mahan was brilliant. After teeing off in the morning group, he shot a bogey-free eight-under 62 to grab the early lead.
Mahan was striking the ball well, and only missed one fairway. He was also insanely hot with his putter, which you can get a feel for in this tweeted highlight by the PGA:
Mahan has had success at this event in the past. He won here in 2007. His opening round score that year? Yep, an identical 62.
Hoffman strode off the 18th with the confidence gained from a remarkable round that netted him the lead. Also due to the fact that he can comfortably say he has the most recognizable hair on the PGA.
The Travelers Championship tweeted evidence of all of this:
Hoffman started his round with five straight pars and then caught fire. He went two-under to finish off the front side. He then went five-under on the first four holes of the back in a stretch that included two eagles.
Check out the second of his two eagles, which came on the par-five 13th hole:
While Hoffman was striking the ball well, it was his putter that really propelled him to this fabulous round. He finished Round 1 with 2.189 strokes-gained putting.
ESPN's Justin Ray puts this fabulous round in perspective:
Charley Hoffman: 61 today, career-low score on @PGATOUR - only 2 scores on Tour better in 2013: 60's by Phil Mickelson & Keegan Bradley.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) June 20, 2013
Hoffman's low round is not all that surprising. He's been playing well and has three top-10 finishes in his last eight PGA starts. He was also runner-up at this event last year.
Golf's Freshest Major Champ Is Back in Action
Just four days after claiming his first major, Justin Rose tee'd it up for this event. Given his whirlwind tour of media events and the satisfaction of picking up a career-defining win, it would've been completely understandable for Rose to struggle through his round.
It looked like that would be the case early. Rose birdied the first, but then suffered three bogeys on holes No. 3-6.
However, when Rose's swing is in a groove like it is now, apparently nothing can slow him down. He didn't suffer another bogey and picked up five more birdies to finish the round with a solid three-under 67.
Bubba Watson Looking Strong for First Win of the Season
Bubba Watson has three top-10 finishes this year, but he is still looking for his first win. He also hasn't finished better than 29th in any of his last four starts.
He put those struggles firmly behind him in the first round. He fired a seven-under 63 to sit just two shots off the lead.
This is a short course for all these guys, but for the long-hitting Watson, it is ridiculously short.
Case in point, he drove the 305-yard, par-four 15th hole...with a three wood:
Watson's success here on Thursday is not surprising. He was runner-up here last year, and he won in 2010.