Bubba Watson packaged a complete game in the first round of the Travelers Championship, taking the lead with an 8-under 62.
Watson, 36, combined power and precision – with a 325.5 driving distance average and 2.25 Strokes Gained-Putting – but the best example of his touch may have come on the 18th hole. Watson put a 140-yard shot on a direct line at the pin and started strutting toward the hole before his shot hit land. The ball nearly bounced in the hole for an eagle, hitting the pin and coming to rest just a few inches away. The shot set up one of the left-hander’s five birdies on the back nine.
Watson, who missed the cut at last week’s U.S. Open, leads a group of four by two shots at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. The two-time major-winner, who is looking for his second win at the Travelers, took his first PGA Tour title at TPC River Highlands in 2010.
“I hit my driver well, (and I’m) putting good. I worked on putting hard last week,” said Watson. “Last week doesn’t really show you how good or had bad you’re playing. You get bounces one way or the other way. So I’m happy to come out today and show that I’m playing well.”
Seung-Yul Noh, Keegan Bradley, Brian Stuard and Harris English all shot rounds of 4-under 66 and share second place through Round 1.
In a departure from the difficult conditions at the U.S. Open, 93 golfers shot rounds under par and 26 of those players are within four shots of Watson’s lead.