By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM correspondent
CROMWELL, Conn. -- David Mathis got off to a tremendous start. He made a 22-foot birdie at the 10 th. He made a 49-foot birdie at the 12 th. In between, Mathis made an ace at the 159-yard 11 th. Mathis leads the tournament in Strokes Gained - Putting and in length of putts made (he sank 141 feet of putts on Thursday).
Defending champion: Fredrik Jacobson struggled with the heat. With heat index temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, he repeatedly wiped down the grips of all his clubs to maintain good contact. It worked. Jacobson hit 16 greens and notched seven birdies. His only mistake was a double bogey on the 16 th hole and that was almost an ace -- Jacobson’s pitch mark was just a foot from the cup.
Hot start: It was so hot during the opening round, play had to be halted on occasion for the greens to be syringed. Officials constantly monitored the bentgrass greens, which can’t tolerate extreme heat. This week certainly qualifies. The maintenance crew would hose down the greens to lower the surface temperature. That made greens more receptive but also kept the putting surfaces alive.
Putting problems: Kyle Stanley is a great player. He’s a tournament winner, is 17 th in FedEx Cup points and is sixth on TOUR in average driving distance. He has a weakness though and he knows what is -- putting. Stanley is ranked 180 th on TOUR in Strokes Gained - Putting. He had 34 putts in the opening round and his only birdies came from two putts after missing eagle putts when reaching the par 5s in two.
Happy birthday: Congratulations to Matt Kuchar -- he turned 34 on Thursday and celebrated by shooting a 3-under 67. His round included an eagle at the 13 th and just 24 putts.
Bubba time: What a strange round of golf for Bubba Watson. He is the longest hitter on TOUR and yet did not birdie any of the par 5s or the driveable par-4 15 th hole. Even with those miscues, Watson shot 66. A hole-out eagle at the 10 th helped offset his mistakes on the par 5s.