CROMWELL, Conn. – Four days after Matthew Fitzpatrick won the 122nd US Open and less than 24 hours after PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced that significant changes to the PGA Tour schedule and FedEx Cup playoff system are in place. underway, the Travelers Championship began at TPC River Highlands.
Several golfers commented on Thursday that after the grind of a US Open, coming to this course, which typically scores low, is a welcome relief. Among the players who fell low on the first day of the tournament were Rory McIlroy and JT Poston, who both shot 8-under at 62, as well as Xander Schauffele and Martin Laird (63). Three other players – Charles Howell III, Webb Simpson and Patrick Cantlay – shot 64. Anirban Lahiri had the most boring scorecard of the day. He shot a 70 after parrying all 18 holes. He also did it in the final round of the 2015 Masters.
Here are five takeaways from the first day of action at the 2022 Travelers Championship.
Rory does not play to score a point
Rory McIlroy plays a shot from the fourth tee during the first round of the Travelers Championship. (Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Even while battling cold symptoms, Rory McIlroy continued his solid game on Thursday shooting a bogey-free 62 to take the lead in the Travelers Championship.
When asked if he and some of the other PGA Tour supporters were particularly driven or trying to send a message to LIV Golf fans with a solid game, McIlroy said no.
“I just think the most protective people on the PGA Tour happen to be the best players in the world right now,” he said. “I’m not going to try to prove anything to anyone. I’m in good shape. I play well. If that gives me a little more confidence to talk about certain issues, maybe. But I’m just going there to try to play my game and try to win other tournaments.
Poston didn’t think about the story after a hot start
JT Poston lines up a putt on the seventh green during the first round of the 2022 RBC Canadian Open at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke, Ont. (Photo: Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
TPC River Highlands surrendered a 58 to Jim Furyk in 2016, so when JT Poston had 6 under through his eight holes Thursday afternoon, another under-60 score seemed to be on the way. However, Poston then made seven straight pars before birdying on the seventh and ninth holes for his 8-under 62.
Did he think 58?
“You know, I haven’t really thought about it. I probably would have thought of that if I had birdied a few holes in those first holes of the front nine,” he said afterwards. “I gave myself a few looks, but I kind of made a bunch of pars to start the front. It was a little out of place after a little while. I might have thought a little more if I had managed a few early birdies, and who knows?
Warming up is overrated
Xander Schauffele chats with his caddy on the third fairway during the first round of the 2022 Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Most players follow the same warm-up and preparation routine before each round. This usually includes stretches, then a series of putts before moving to the range and progressing from wedges to irons and finally some drivers. If the practice green is on the way to the first tee, they might make a few final putts before playing. It usually takes about an hour.
On Thursday, Xander Schauffele got his start time wrong and arrived at the practice area just 30 minutes before his 7:35 a.m. ET start time.
“For some reason, I really thought I was leaving at 7:50 a.m. My start time tomorrow is 12:50 p.m., so maybe it was the confusion,” Schauffele said. “But it was a pretty big rookie move in my name.”
The abbreviated warm-up didn’t seem to bother Schauffele too much. After making three straight pars to start his day, he birdied at numbers 13, 15, 17 and 18 to play his first nine holes in 31 strokes. He finished with a 7-under 63. He also went 18 for 18 hits to the greens in regulation time.
Smiling after signing his card, Schauffele said: “When I’m home I warm up at the gym or with a physio, but when I’m home I show up for an 8 start at 7:55, maybe hit two putts and then start swinging, so enjoy the youth, I guess,”
For Jordan Spieth, 4 + 5 + 2 + 4 = 5 more
Jordan Spieth and caddy Michael Greller at the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands (Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Jordan Spieth landed one of the most famous shots in Travelers Championship history, a bunker shot that went to the 18th hole on Sunday in 2016 that won him the tournament against Daniel Berger. In sheer elation, he jumped into his shopping cart, Michael Greller. You’ve seen this replay a million times.
On Thursday, he felt the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, shooting a 5 of 75 that included four birdies, three bogeys, double bogeys and four (yes, four!) penalty strokes.
You might assume that Spieth has never had four penalty strokes added to his score in a PGA Tour event, but surprisingly, he also did in the final round of the first FedEx Cup 2021 playoff event. was held last year at the Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey. City, New Jersey.
The eighth hole during the first round of the 2022 Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
With two 62s, a pair of 63s and three 64s topping the leaderboard, you might think TPC River Highlands was defenseless on Thursday, but the 6,852-yard, par-70 course played with an average of 69.9 strokes. Compensating for low scores at the top were scores like Jordan Spieth’s aforementioned 75, as well as Jason Day’s 74 and Richy Werenski’s 78.