Mackenzie Hughes shoots a career-best 60 to take Travelers Championship lead
Mackenzie Hughes shot a career-low 60 Thursday to take the first-round at the Travelers Championship as the PGA Tour tried to switch its focus back to golf amid growing concerns about the coronavirus.
Hughes, a 29-year-old Canadian, had a chance to shoot the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history, but his 40-foot birdie attempt on his final hole came up short. Jim Furyk shot a 12-under 58 on the same TPC River Highlands course four years ago, the lowest score in a tour event.
“I kind of joked walking off there that 59 wasn’t even the record because of Jim’s 58,” Hughes said. “It’s probably not even that special around here. But as a personal milestone it would have been neat.”
It was good enough for three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland, who each shot 63 on a day of low scoring.
Phil Mickelson, paired with McIlroy in his first competitive round since turning 50, was one of six players to shoot 64. Bryson DeChambeau’s 65 was the worst score in the marquee threesome.
There were 106 players who broke par. The record for a day at TPC River Highlands was in 2011, when 111 players were one under or better in the second round.
A photo released by NASCAR shows the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose that was found in Bubba Wallace’s stall at Talladega.
Hughes’ bogey-free round included a 30-foot birdie putt on his second-to-last hole, the par-three eighth. Patrick Cantlay was the last to shoot 60 at TPC River Highlands as an amateur in 2011.
McIlroy, who also started on the back nine, eagled the par-five 13th and followed that up with two straight birdies. He made four more birdies on the front nine for a 31.
“It’s just been nice to get back into some competitive golf again,” McIlroy said. “You know, it doesn’t feel the same because you’re not having thousands of people reacting to your birdies and getting that going. I felt the weekends have been a little flat for me just because that’s when you’re in contention and that’s where you sort of start to feel it. Thursdays and Fridays don’t feel that different to be honest, but into the weekends they do.”
Mickelson learned earlier Thursday that he was granted an exemption into this year’s U.S. Open for being in the top 70 in the world on March 15, when golf was shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” said Mickelson, who finished second to Geoff Ogilvy at Winged Foot in 2006 after a double bogey on the 72nd hole. “But I’ve had 30 U.S. Opens. I’ve had plenty of opportunities, and so if I don’t qualify, I want somebody else who deserves a spot, too, to play. As long as I’m playing well enough to compete to earn my way into the field, then I want to play and keep trying to win that tournament.”
Schauffele and Hovland were the best among the afternoon wave. Schauffele was eight under through 16 holes but missed a seven-footer for par on the 17th. Hovland made a sloppy bogey on 17 but rebounded with a wedge to four feet on the par-four 18th for birdie.
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