Daily Wrap-up: Travelers Championship, Round 1

June 21, 2012
Staff and wire reports

CROMWELL, Conn. -- David Mathis hoped to start strong at the Travelers Championship after missing the cut last week in the U.S. Open.

The 38-year-old Mathis birdied his first hole, then aced the 158-yard par-3 11th hole. He knocked in a 49-foot birdie putt on his third, was at 6-under par after six holes, and fished with a 6-under 64 for a one-shot lead.


"It was an awesome start," said Mathis, who has never finished better than eighth in a PGA TOUR event. "I was hitting a lot of great shots (later), and I guess it felt like a lull compared to how I started."

Nathan Green, Will Claxton and defending champion Fredrik Jacobson shot 65 on a day that saw temperatures soar into the upper 90s.

U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and Masters winner Bubba Watson played together and finished in a group of 10 at 66. The third member of the group, PGA champion Keegan Bradley, shot a 68.

"We were relaxed all day," Simpson said. "Bubba is my Presidents Cup partner. We always laugh together. And I've played a lot of golf with Keegan this year. He's a good friend. We had a lot of fun feeding off each other, and luckily, we all played well."

Mathis' ace was the shot of the day. He said he was just trying to cut a nine iron close to the pin and hit it exactly where he aimed.

"It kind of bounced and stumbled right and went right in the hole," he said.

Green teed off at 6:50 a.m., well before heat and humidity set in, setting the early mark with a 65. Claxton opened his round with a birdie and an eagle, but finished with a bogey on 18.

Projected points
The race for spots in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup continues this week. Click to see who's making moves. Projections

"To start out birdie-eagle, that's huge," Claxton said. "I obviously had the driver going. I drove the ball well today. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be."

Jacobson, who picked up his only PGA TOUR win at the event a year ago, spent much of the day atop the leaderboard before a double bogey on 16 dropped him to 5 under and into a three-way tie for second.

"I knew it was going to be challenging in this heat, and if you start to miss a few shots, it can get to you," he said. "So I was just happy to get through this day."

One of Jacobson's playing competitors, former Masters champion Zach Johnson, also had a tough finish. He was 3 under when he hit a drive over the green at 15. He made a 6 there and a seven on the par-4 17th, where he tried to putt from the fringe, and needed three more after making it to the green.

A gallery of fans five and six deep greeted Simpson, Watson, and Bradley on the first tee, and many followed them throughout what all three said was a relaxed round.

"Any time you can play with those guys, it's fun," Watson said. "We learn from each other. We watch each other. We're making some jokes out there. We were having a good time. It was good."

But it wasn't fun for everybody. Former UCLA star Patrick Cantlay made his professional debut with a 75 on the same course where he made headlines last year with a second-round 60 as a 19-year-old amateur.

TPC River Highlands: Round 1
The par-5 6th hole was the easiest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.736.
The par-4 4th hole was the toughest with a Thursday scoring average of 4.346.
About the leaders
• David Mathis got the hottest start of the day in Round 1. Following a birdie-3 at his first hole (No. 10), he made a hole-in-one with a 9-iron from 158 yards on No. 11. He followed that with another birdie-3 at the 12th to go 4-under through three holes and 6-under through six. He shot a 6-under 64.
• Mathis needed just five putts on his first six holes (Nos. 10-15), and a total of just 23 for the round. He hit 12 of 14 fairways (86 percent) and 12 of 18 greens in regulation (67 percent).
• Mathis is making his fourth start in the Travelers Championship this week. Prior to a T17 last year at TPC River Highlands, Mathis missed the cut in 1999 and 2009.
• Mathis, who is making his 20th start of the season this week, got off to a rocky start in 2012, missing the cut in 10 of his first 11 starts. Since the end of April, he has rebounded with six made cuts in his last eight starts. Of those made cuts, he has amassed four top-20 finishes. Mathis missed the cut at last week's U.S. Open.
• The only previous time Mathis has been leader/co-leader after any round on the PGA TOUR was following Round 1 of the 2011 FedEx St. Jude Classic. He finished T13.

"I started off poorly with a couple of doubles and couple weird things happened, and it just added up to a bad round," Cantlay said.