By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR
CROMWELL, Conn. -- The last -- and only -- player to successfully defend in the 60-year history of the Travelers Championship was Phil Mickelson in 2001 and 2002. Now Fredrik Jacobson is trying to become the second.
So far, Jacobson is off to a good start, shooting a 5-under 65 Thursday to sit one shot off the lead of David Mathis.
Last year, Jacobson made just one bogey all week. Thursday, he had just one hiccup as well, double-bogeying the par-3 16th hole after hitting his tee shot over the green and leaving his second shot short. He then missed a 4-footer for bogey.
It was the only blemish in an otherwise flawless round for the Swede, who has played his last five rounds at TPC River Highlands in a combined 25 under with 28 birdies in that span.
“Last year was last year,” Jacobson said. “This year is a different story, so just happy to be back at the place where I enjoy to play. I have some good memories and try to go out there, and today my goal was to get off to a decent start. I know it was going to be challenging in this heat, and if you start to miss a few shots, it can get to you. I was just happy to get through this day.”
With temperatures well into the 90s -- and a heat index north of 100 degrees -- Jacobson managed to handle the heat just fine. He missed just two greens and led the field in approach shot distance to the pin at just over 23 feet.
As good as the round was, it could have been even lower. Jacobson missed three putts inside 10 feet, and a couple just outside that range, including on the 18th, where his 12-footer for birdie came up just short.
Still, there was little Jacobson could be disappointed with on a course he’s clearly comfortable on.
“I was happy to strike the ball really well and not end up in too many tricky positions,” Jacobson said. “I kept it a little simpler to stay focused and just get into a nice rhythm.”