Rory McIlroy made a stunning start to the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.
In what is his final event before next month’s Open Championship, McIlroy made eight birdies in a round of 62 to dispel any fears he could be jaded after a busy spell.
He was excellent from tee to green and rolled in a series of putts to fire himself to the top of the leaderboard.
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“The good thing is I have been playing well, so you want to ride that wave,” McIlroy said. “The win in Canada was great, getting into contention at the US Open as well.
"Coming in here, fourth week in a row, I knew I was going to be a little tired, but when you are playing this well you want to keep it going.
"If I had have taken this week off I’d have been sat at home thinking it was a missed opportunity, so happy to be here.”
After rain earlier in the week, and with conditions benign, the Connecticut track was there was the taking - and the likes of McIlroy and Xander Schauffele did not pass up the opportunity.
The par five 13th, his fourth, saw McIlroy pick up his first birdie of the round in a somewhat unusual fashion.
He found the greenside bunker with his approach and sent his splash shot off the far side of the green, only to chip in for a bonus birdie.
A second birdie followed on the superb 15th hole. McIlroy’s tee shot came up 20 yards short of the green and he played his pitch superbly as it rolled to the side of the hole for a tap-in bride.
A third birdie came on the 18th courtesy of a brilliant wedge approach as McIlroy turned in three-under, and it was a similar story on the first hole - his 10th - with a superb approach leaving a simple task with the putter.
McIlroy kept his foot on the gas with further birdies on three, six and seven.
He saved the best for last, as he turned the ninth into a pitch and putt. At 405 yards, it is not short but McIlroy bombed the longest drive of the day - 332 yards - and pitched his ball to the side of the hole for a closing birdie and a round of 62 for the clubhouse lead.
Schauffele produced a golfing clinic, as he hit all 18 greens in regulation - and it amounted to him carding an opening round of 63.
McIlroy dragged along his playing partner Webb Simpson, who shot a round of 64 to sit two off the lead.
It took some time, but McIlroy finally got some company at the top of the leaderboard late in the afternoon as JT Poston rolled in a birdie putt on 18 for a round of 62.
Patrick Cantlay compiled an impressive round of 64 to sit two adrift of the leaders.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler made a steady start with a round of 68, but Jordan Spieth had a day to forget as he signed for a five-over 75 and will need a low score on Friday to stand any chance of playing at the weekend.
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