Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose, Charlie Wi and Australia's Mathew Goggin shot 6-under-par 64s to tie for the first-round lead of the Travelers Championship.
Padraig Harrington was smiling often during the first round of the Travelers Championship on Thursday at TPC River Highlands.
Which was in contrast to last week at penal Pebble Beach Golf Links, site of the U.S. Open.
"The better condition the golf course is in, the better the score," Harrington said. "If you want players to shoot bad scores, just get the course in bad condition and we won't be holing putts and we'll be losing our patience."
Harrington, Justin Rose, Charlie Wi and Australia's Mathew Goggin weren't bothered at all, shooting 6-under-par 64s to tie for the first-round lead.
Bubba Watson, U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin, Ben Curtis, Vijah Singh, Matt Jones, Kevin Sutherland and Aron Price were at 65.
"It was just perfect," Goggin said of the morning scoring conditions, which featured soft greens and little wind.
Goggin, who played in the second group of the day, recorded the first birdie of the tournament at the first hole at 7:10 a.m.
"Made a bomber," he said of his putt. "I hit it to about 50 feet, which was a nice way to start."
But play was suspended from 2-3:30 p.m. because of a thunderstorm. The wind was gusty when play restarted and continued throughout the remainder of the round, which ended at 8:32 p.m., causing difficulty with approach shots. Scoring suffered. A burst of rain also occurred late in the first round.
Seven of the 11 players at 64 and 65 had morning tee times. The exceptions were Rose, Singh, Jones and Price. The average score for those who teed off in the morning was 69.12, with 276 birdies. The average for the afternoon starters was 70.32, with 237 birdies.
Defending champion Kenny Perry, still showing some fatigue from playing in the U.S. Open and from jet lag, shot 69 in the morning. Stewart Cink, the 2008 Travelers champion, and Hunter Mahan, the 2007 winner, followed at 70 and 71 among the later pairings.
The more demanding afternoon conditions didn't deter Rose, who won the Memorial earlier this month for his first PGA Tour victory. He registered birdies on Nos. 13-17.
"I think the key was staying ready to be patient, realizing that the [afternoon] conditions were fairly tough," he said. "Though I was 1 under through 12, I felt pretty good about things. I wasn't forcing it, wasn't chasing it, and I think that probably allowed me to get hot."
Rose capped his round with a 35-foot birdie at 17.
"The wind really picked up when I was at 16 and 17," he said. " I was more than happy to walk off there  with par, but sometimes when it's going your way …"
While Rose is looking for his second title, Harrington has five, including the 2008 PGA Championship. Goggin and Wi are looking for their first tour victory.
Goggin didn't play like someone who had missed seven of his last nine cuts. He made 17 of 19 putts inside of 10 feet and hit 12 of 14 fairways. And Wi posted his lowest round of the season.
"I really rolled the ball really nicely," he said.
So did Harrington, whose only other appearance at TPC River Highlands was in 2007. He needed only 25 putts. He started with birdies at his first three holes (Nos. 10-12).
"You know when things are going for you, you might as well run with it," he said.
His iron play was superb, as evidenced by a 9-iron to 3 feet at No. 12, a wedge to 3 feet at 18 and a 7-iron at No. 4 to 12 inches. He made each putt for birdie.
His other birdie putts were 15 feet at the 10th, 35 feet at the 11th, 35 at the 16th and 45 at the fifth. His lone bogey came at the par-4 14th, where he missed a 15-footer for par.
Harrington is playing this week in preparation for the British Open, which he won in 2007 and '08. He will play in the two-day JP McManus Pro-Am in his native Ireland next week. He'd like to be toting the Travelers Championship trophy back home.
The task will be challenging. There are 34 players within three shots of the lead.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times