Charley Hoffman takes early lead at Travelers Championship

Charley Hoffman played a round of golf Thursday that he isn’t likely to forget.

Hoffman shot a 9-under par 61, one shot off the course record at TPC River Highlands, to take the lead after the first round of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.

The round was especially rewarding for Hoffman after a disastrous ending to his tournament there last year.

Holding a two stroke lead going into the final two holes on Sunday last June, Hoffman double bogeyed 17, putting his tee shot in the water, and bogeyed 18, eventually finishing in a tie for second place.

This time around he was able to par 17 and birdie 18 as part of a 28 on the back nine, the lowest nine hole score on the PGA Tour this season.

“Believe it or not, I was thinking about it going down 16, 17, 18. If I could have just gotten those balls in play, I would have been defending champion here. But this year, I got off to a good start and obviously a little more focused on those last two holes,” Hoffman told CBS Sports.

Hunter Mahan was one stroke off of Hoffman’s lead, scoring eight birdies on a course where he’s had past success, winning in 2007. Bubba Watson, the 2010 Travelers Champion, was two shots back.

Justin Rose, fresh off his victory at the U.S. Open shot an opening round 67, good for 3-under par. Rose got the biggest ovation of any golfer when he was announced at the first tee.

None of the World Golf Rankings top three players – Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott – will tee it up this week at the Travelers. Woods announced earlier this week that he won’t be playing in any tournaments between now and the British Open, which begins on July 18, after re-aggravating an elbow injury, first suffered at last month’s Players Championship, this past weekend at the U.S. Open.

Marc Leishman, who was the beneficiary of Hoffman’s late hole struggles last season, sits five shots back after the first round, as he looks to defend his championship.

Categories: Golf