Through 18 holes, the leaderboard of the 2018 Travelers Championship is more star-studded than last week's U.S. Open.
Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth sit atop the field after shooting matching seven-under 63s to lead the field by one stroke. Rory McIlroy leads a group of three golfers sitting in a tie for third at six under, with Peter Malnati and Brian Harman joining him.
Spieth finished with six birdies and an eagle against just a single bogey, nailing better than 80 percent of his fairways and greens in regulation. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open; it was his first time not playing the weekend at a major since the 2014 PGA Championship.
“I’ve been sticking to the process,” Spieth said, per William S. Paxton of USA Today. “I’ve been very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year. So it’s good to see a good score. The first rounds have been kind of detrimental to me, so it's nice to be in the thick of things.”
“To be able to post 7-under feeling like I didn’t quite have anywhere near the control I had of the ball last year at this time, it was nice,” Spieth continued. “But at the same time, I’m going to work hard to gain control as each day goes on.”
Johnson did almost the entirety of his work on the back nine, including a marvelous string of six straight birdies from Nos. 11-16. He bogeyed 17 immediately after but that was his only black mark of the day, as he finished with eight birdies to get to 63.
McIlroy was right with the leaders at seven under until his only blemish of the day at No. 18. His round was done in by a shaky performance on the green; he hit the ball 340 yards on average off the tee and missed just one green in regulation.
“I'm trying to get back to the way I swung in sort of 2010, 2011,” McIlroy said. “It’s sort of hard because my body has changed quite a bit since then and the feelings I have, but the feeling I have right now is the feeling I had in the middle of 2009.”
McIlroy is also coming off a missed cut at the U.S. Open.
“Obviously, you never want to miss a cut in a major, but it might have been a blessing in disguise for the rest of the year,” McIlroy said.
Among the other notables near the top of the leaderboard is Jason Day, who is tied for ninth at four under.