Mahan makes huge climb up leaderboard with 61

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CROMWELL, Conn. – Hunter Mahan has been known to make birdies in bunches, but rarely has he – or anyone else, for that matter – enjoyed such a precipitous climb up the leaderboard as he did on Sunday.

Playing in the first twosome of the Travelers Championship final round, Mahan posted a 9-under 61 to move from T-68 to a share of third place when his round was over – some two hours before co-leaders Roland Thatcher and Brian Davis were even scheduled to tee off.

“Well, the weather is perfect, greens are perfect, course is great,” he said after the round. “I’ve been swinging it great all week. I just got some putts to fall in and got a little momentum early and kind of rode the wave coming in.”

Mahan opened with five pars before carding birdies on three of the last four holes on the TPC-River Highlands front nine. He got really hot on the back, making birdie on Nos. 11, 12, 13, 15, 16 and 18 for an inward 29. For the round, he hit 11 of 14 fairways, 16 of 18 greens in regulation and needed just 26 total putts.

The 61 is Mahan’s lowest career score in a PGA Tour event. He had previously posted six totals of 62, most recent in the final round of the 2009 AT&T National. That also matched his opening-round number at the Travelers two years earlier, when he won his first career title in a playoff.

Depending on exactly where Mahan finishes at day’s end, the result should also solidify his place atop the all-time Travelers Championship money list.

“That would be good,” he said. “That’s always a good stat at any event.”