Connecticut (Reuters) – Irishman Padraig Harrington, fresh off a tie for 22nd place at last week’s U.S. Open, fired seven birdies to grab a share of the lead at the Travelers Championship on Thursday.
Briton Justin Rose went out with the late groups and had a run of five consecutive birdies on the back nine to join Harrington and two others atop the leaderboard.
The only blemish on Harrington’s scorecard was a bogey at the par-four 14th en route to an opening round six-under-par 64 at the TPC River Highlands.
For Harrington, in search of his first PGA Tour win since the 2008 PGA Championship, the course was a welcome change from the fast-running conditions and small greens at Pebble Beach.
“It’s a different change of pace, but now that I’m leading the tournament, it’s back to the old grind again,” Harrington said. “If you hit it close, you’re confident you can get some putts in a row and you’re not weary of leaving yourself two- or three-footers so it’s nice.”
Joining Harrington and Rose atop the leaderboard were Australia’s Matthew Goggin and South Korea’s Charlie Wi, each of whom carded bogey-free opening rounds.
Rose dropped to one-under after a bogey at the par-four 12th before reeling off five birdies to grab a share of the lead.
“The key today was staying really patient and realizing the conditions this afternoon were fairly tough,” Rose said. “I felt good about things. I wasn’t forcing it, wasn’t chasing it, and I think that probably allowed me to get hot.”
Seven players, including Vijay Singh and Americans Bubba Watson and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin were one shot off the pace. Kenny Perry, who won the event last year, finished at one-under 69.
“I missed one or two greens, but I putted really well,” Singh said. “My solid play today was my putting.”
Only five of the world’s top 30 are at River Highlands, including South African Retief Goosen (17th) and American Hunter Mahan (21st). Goosen shot a two-under-par 68 and Mahan a one-over 71.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)