CROMWELL, Conn. – Justin Rose birdied five of his final six holes for a 6-under 64 and a share of the first-round lead Thursday in the Travelers Championship.
Rose, the Memorial winner three weeks ago who failed to qualify for the U.S. Open last week at Pebble Beach, missed a 12-foot birdie putt on 18, leaving him tied with morning starters Padraig Harrington, Charlie Wi and Mathew Goggin.
Rose was 1 under through 12 holes, before making his run, which included a 34-foot birdie putt on 17.
“I was more than happy to walk off there with a par,” he said. “But sometimes when things are going your way, you roll in a 30-footer and suddenly, I was like, ‘Things are going right now.”’
Harrington and Rose are trying to run Europe’s tour winning streak to four.
“As I’ve been saying for quite a while, European golf is very strong and there’s a lot of good young players finding their way in the game, learning how to win, given the opportunity,” Harrington said. “You’ve seen three in the last three weeks and a few others during the year.”
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell won the big prize last week at the U.S. Open. The Memorial was Rose’s first tour win, and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood won before that at the St. Jude Classic.
Harrington, Goggin and Wi all capitalized on perfect morning conditions, finishing well before high wind and heavy rain hit the area in the afternoon, forcing a 90-minute delay.
Harrington birdied his first three holes and was 4 under at the turn.
Goggin made his run on the back nine, birdieing Nos. 13, 15 and 17.
Both Goggin and Wi played bogey-free rounds. Wi made four back-nine birdies, including three straight on 12, 13 and 14 to pull into even.
“The conditions were perfect when we teed off,” Wi said. “The wind didn’t start blowing until about the seventh hole so I was able to make some birdies when the conditions were perfect.”
Vijay Singh shot a 65 in the afternoon despite wind gusts in the area of up to 25 mph.
“It wasn’t totally into us, except for six holes, I think,” Singh said. “It wasn’t awfully bad. It was gusty, but if you timed it well, it wasn’t that bad.”
Six others also shot 65s, including 50-year-old former U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, who hit all 14 fairways in regulation.
“It’s really important to hit the fairways, keep it in play, hit some nice shots into the greens and take a birdie when you can get it,” he said. “And it’s not a course generally where the scoring is tremendously low, but it can be, but you have to play smart golf here and play your own game.”
Last year, Kenny Perry won by shooting 22-under par. Harrington said knowing scores could go that low forced some aggressive play.
“You got to think you got to make birdies,” Harrington said. “You really do. You gotta poach first and take your chance every now and again that you will get yourself in trouble, but hopefully you’ll recover. But you’ve gotta take a chance to make plenty of birdies.”
The shot of the day came from Chad Campbell, who used a 6-iron to ace the 165-yard 16th hole. Campbell knocked the ball just above the pin and watched it roll back into the cup.
“There wasn’t much reaction on the green,” he said. “We didn’t know if it was going in. It was so early, it was pretty much just marshals back there. We didn’t know for sure it was in.”
Campbell said he has 10 aces in his life and this was his second on tour. It was the 30th ace in the history of the Connecticut tournament.
For his effort, Campbell won a $50,000 shopping spree at a jewelry store.
He followed the ace with a birdie on 17, and finished the first round at 3 under, three shots off the lead.