WATCH: Rory and Denny’s Wild Thursday at Travelers

Rory McIlroy, 2023 Travelers Championship,(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, 2023 Travelers Championship,(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

Jet lag- not a thing in Rory McIlroy and Denny McCarthy’s world, clearly.

In a quick turnaround from the 123rd U.S. Open, golf’s top players traveled across the country this week to play at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut for the Travelers Championship. In the past, this event would typically be skipped by bigger names in golf; opting for a break between the final two Majors of the season.

This year, however, the Travelers Championship was elevated to one of the PGA Tour’s designated events, meaning a bigger purse and a mandatory event for players who would have previously opted out.

A win for us golf nerds; a bummer for the golfers who are not the best travelers (no pun intended).

Rory McIlroy Makes First Ace of Tour Career

Though it may sound surprising, Rory McIlroy had never recorded an ace in his 16 years on the PGA Tour, until Thursday. Per PGA Tour Communications, Rory McIlroy has played 3,253 par-3s on Tour; but his first hole-in-one came on Thursday’s 8th hole at the Travelers.

The Northern Irishman holed out the 214-yard 8th hole using a 5-iron and looked astonished when he heard the crowds roar, signaling the coveted ace. Throwing his hands up in the air, Rory McIlroy celebrated with his caddie and looked back at the ball’s location in disbelief.

While most players might want to keep their hole-in-one ball as a special memento to mark the occasion, McIlroy eventually tossed the ball to the crowd in the grandstands.

Despite his instant reaction, he was relatively unimpressed by the ace in his post-round presser.

"“I’m not sentimental. I don’t care. I’d rather have trophies than golf balls.” – Rory McIlroy"

Sure, fair enough.

The recent U.S. Open runner-up did share that the hole-in-one helped changed the momentum of his round.

"“I played pretty averagely up until that point. Felt like that hole in one got me going a little bit. Birdied the next couple holes after that and sort of got me into the tournament a bit.”"

Rory McIlroy finished two-under-par for the day and will enter Friday’s second round T46.

McCarthy Nearly Holes out for Eagle and 59

Denny McCarthy’s scorecard could not have gotten much prettier today, though he certainly tried to get it there on the 9th, his last of the day.

McCarthy’s 169-yard second shot on the par-4 9th nearly holed out for eagle, sending analyst Brad Faxon into an absolute frenzy as he almost went 11 under for the day. Really- their excitement left me at my desk feeling as though I was watching a 90-yard kick return TD, not golf. Good for the sport; good for a mid-work day pick-me-up.

Round one of the Travelers Tournament felt like déjà vu from last Thursday as players took advantage of the perfect conditions and went low throughout the tournament.

Earlier in the day, Keegan Bradley shot a 29 on the back nine where he started his round, racking up five birdies in a row to kick his day off. He was 8 under-par through 13, but his hot streak cooled on the par-3 5th hole where he recorded a bogey. Bradley finished his round 8 under and will enter the second round T2.

Adam Scott also posted 8 under-par, shooting 31 on both the front and back. An unfortunate double-bogey on 17 after his ball went in the water (one of numerous to find a watery grave on this hole today) kept him from grabbing a share of the lead, but he added on to 10 prior birdies (including 5 in a row on the back 9) on the 18th.

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The second round of the Travelers Championship will tee off at 6:45 a.m. ET on Friday.