What a difference a week makes. After finishing with a four-day total of 15-over par at Merion last week, 14 year PGA Pro, Charley Hoffman put two eagles on the card to take a one-shot lead at the2013 Travelers Championship on Thursday afternoon. TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut surrendered more birdies in one day than Merion did for the entire US Open.
Hoffman came to TPC River Highlands with a chip on his shoulder, and some unfinished business. A double bogey/bogey finish at the 2012 Travelers Championship handed Marc Leishman the title, and trophy. His opening round -9 under par 61 was one stroke off the course record, but only good for a one-stroke lead.
The 36 year-old from San Diego, California has one top three finish in 2013, that coming at the Valero Texas Open. He had a T6 at he The RBC Heritage, and a T8 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship back in May, and has two PGA Tour victories. The University of Las Vegas graduate won the 2007 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, and the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship during the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Hoffman shot a bogey-free round on Thursday with eagles at the par four tenth, and the par five 13th holes. He hit almost 90% of his greens in regulation, and picked up over 2.5 strokes on the greens with his flat stick. He won’t be able to rest however, as he tees off early on Friday with some pretty good golfers who are hot on his trail.
2007 Travelers Champion, Hunter Mahan shot a -8 under par bogey-free round on Thursday as well. Mahan is hot off a fourth place finish at Merion, and a final round loss to Matt Kuchar at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championships in February. Bubba Watson carded a solid 63 to get in contention.
After a whirl-wind tour of New York City earlier in the week, 2013 US Open Champion Justin Rose got off to a shaky start with some bogeys on the front nine, but got the ship righted to post a -3 under 67 which was good for an 8th place tie after one round. I was surprised Rose was able to make the tournament after the usual distractions for a US Open Champion, but he took the field, and is meeting his commitment to play.
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