By PAT EATON-ROBB
CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) _ David Mathis hoped to start strong at the
Travelers Championship after missing the cut last week in the U.S.
The 38-year-old Mathis birdied his first hole, then holed out
from 158 yards on the 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
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 threesome, 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
“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.
“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
“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 partner’s, 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
“I started off poorly with a couple of doubles and couple weird
things happened, and it just added up to a bad round,” Cantlay
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)