For a second year running Padraig Harrington signed off a 66 on day one of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
Harrington didn’t drop a shot, with two birdies on each half for his four-under par tally and headed to a well-deserved lunch sharing sixth place early on in the $US 7m event.
At the end of the round, Harrington trailed three shots behind the fellow Open Championship winning pair of Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson while Rory McIlroy, also an Open winner, shot a 64 to be sharing third place.
However ,Harrington’s focus, aside from a first victory in nearly two years, was three events closer to home commencing with the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Ballyliffin.
“It’s all about the next four weeks leading up to The Open, including looking forward very much to the Irish Open at Ballyliffin,” he said.
“Ballyliffin will be my first event of three weeks on links courses as I am also playing the Scottish Open, so hopefully it will be nice to get back to familiar territory.”
Harrington made the most of his Traveler’s invitation with birdies at the par-5 sixth where, after missing the green right, he chipped his 37-yard third shot to eight-feet and drained the putt. He then hit a booming 321-drive down the seventh and sent a laser-like 135-yard wedge to just three-feet for a second birdie.
He pared the next three before moving to three-under in landing his tee shot at the par-3 11th to 16-feet and then delighted a big crowd following his group in holing the birdie putt. He then moved to four-under at the short par-4 15th, first missing the green short and right but then brilliantly chipped to three feet for a birdie ‘3’.
The current World No. 252 pared his closing three holes and said, “I was happy how I played as I played nice and steady hitting plenty of fairways and greens while my head was in a good place this morning.”.
“My driving was good today missing just one fairway and that was on 10 and then managing to hit all but three greens in regulation so very pleased with the start.”
“Though in saying that you want to be shooting three to four under as 16-under is the average winning score.”
Meanwhile, Seamus Power posted a level par70 while Graeme McDowell struggled in returning to the Tour after missing the cut in last week’s U.S. Open.
McDowell signed off for a two-over par 72, spoiling his round early with a double-bogey ‘6’ at his third hole in finding trees well left and then having to chip out.