PGA: Travelers Championship - First Round

Jun 25, 2020; Cromwell, Connecticut, USA; Mackenzie Hughes reacts during the first round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes blistered a round of 10-under-par 60 on Thursday, and he tops a star-studded leaderboard after the first round of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn.

Hughes, who opened on the back nine, left a 37-foot birdie attempt short at the par-4 ninth in his bid for a 59 at TPC River Highlands, where no fans were in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"For a personal milestone, it would have been really, really neat," Hughes told reporters of nearly shooting 59. "You just don't get very many chances in your life to do it. But it was -- you'd take 60 every day and run, and just excited for the rest of the week."

He leads by three strokes over Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Norway's Viktor Hovland. McIlroy's playing partners also dazzled, with Phil Mickelson shooting a 6-under 64 and Bryson DeChambeau finishing with a 65.

Hughes' round marked his career low and the lowest 18-hole score on the PGA Tour since Kevin Chappell shot 59 in the season-opening A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in September. It was the second-lowest round ever by a Canadian player on tour, behind only Adam Hadwin's 59 in 2017.

The 60 posted by Hughes set a record for lowest first round in the event's history, though Jim Furyk shot his PGA Tour-record 58 at TPC River Highlands in the final round of the Travelers in 2016.

After a relatively quiet start with one birdie through four holes, Hughes ripped off five straight starting at No. 14. He made three consecutive putts between 12 and 15 feet, tapped in for birdie at No. 17 and then sunk a 31-footer at No. 18 for a 6-under 29.

After making the turn, he birdied No. 2 -- "That's kind of when it first dawned on me that 59 was kind of in play," Hughes said afterward -- before adding three more at Nos. 6-8, with the last coming on another 31-foot putt.

"There's just so much golf left to be played," he said. "Really the mentality tomorrow is to go out there and make a bunch of birdies again. The golf course is kind of yielding some scores, and in order to be there on Sunday, I'll have to keep making birdies."

McIlroy's day was highlighted by an eagle at the par-5 13th hole. The world's top-ranked player also recorded six birdies and a lone bogey. McIlroy threatened flagsticks throughout the round, making five of his six birdies from 6 feet or closer.

He also used a 302-yard 3-wood to drive the green at the par-4 15th, settling for a tap-in birdie after missing his eagle attempt from 14 feet.

"That was a new 3-wood I put into play last night," McIlroy said. "I hadn't even hit it on the course. So my first shot with it was off 10, and then second shot was the one on 15. It's worked out pretty well. Nice little change."

Mickelson, playing in his first event since turning 50 on June 16, was in great spirits before the round even started after finding out new exemption rules at the U.S. Open put him in the field. He proved very sharp on his approaches, making all six birdies on putts from 12 feet or closer.

"That worked out great, to be able to know that I have a chance to go back to Winged Foot and give it another shot," Mickelson said of the U.S. Open news.

The U.S. Open is the only major Mickelson hasn't won. He has finished in second place a record six times, including by one stroke at Winged Foot in 2006 after double-bogeying the final hole.

Mickelson is tied for fifth at 6 under with Michael Thompson, Tyler Duncan, Spain's Sergio Garcia, South Korea's Seung-Yul Noh and South Africa's Louis Oosthuizen.

Tyler McCumber, who learned Sunday afternoon he was added to the field to replace Webb Simpson, overcame a double bogey on his third hole to leap into contention by round's end. He eagled his fourth hole and racked up five birdies and no bogeys the rest of the way to shoot 65.

"I think I got the confirmation about 3:00 (p.m. ET on Sunday) on that, and the last flight out of Jacksonville was 5:30, so had to pack in about 25 minutes and head to the airport," said McCumber, who teed off at 7:25 a.m. "... I'm going to take a good nap this afternoon, that's for sure."

McCumber, DeChambeau, Russell Henley, Brian Stuard, Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello and South Korea's Sung Kang share 11th place at 5 under.

Defending champion Chez Reavie is tied for 107th after an even-par round. One stroke better, tied for 79th, is Bubba Watson, a three-time winner in the event.

--Field Level Media

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