By Kyle Porter CBS Sports
After two tournaments in which players torched both Colonial Country Club and Harbour Town Golf Links, we got very much of the same on Thursday in Round 1 of the 2020 Travelers Championship. Mackenzie Hughes set the scoring pace with a 10-under 60 (he missed a putt for 59 on the last hole), but the scoring average dipped to about 68.5, which means if you were 1 under, you were losing strokes to the field.
The leaderboard — as has been the case in each of the first two events — is absolutely loaded after Round 1 with the best player in the world just three back of Hughes. Let’s take a look at what went down on Thursday and who’s in position to make some noise going into the last 54 holes.
1. Mackenzie Hughes (-10) — Hughes birdied three of his last four holes to get to 10 under overall and went to the last knowing he would need a birdie there for 59. He had a 40-footer for bird after a mediocre drive and somehow … left it short. Really short, too. It’s always good to shoot 60, but it had to sting a little bit to not get that one even in the vicinity. The thing Hughes has to worry about a little bit now is that he led the field in putting on Thursday, which is probably unsustainable (especially at this clip).
T2. Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland (-7) — Hovland and Schauffele were great and have real staying power here, but McIlroy stole the show early on in the tournament. He hit the absolute hell out of the ball and made almost nothing on these greens. McIlroy was about field average with his putter and still sits in second place going into Friday. To wit, McIlroy had 13 (thirteen!!) birdie or eagle putts inside of 20 feet, and he made less than 70 feet of putts total. Hughes may hold the lead, but McIlroy is the player to beat over the final 54 holes with the way he’s striking it.
T5. Phil Mickelson, Michael Thompson, Sergio Garcia, Tyler Duncan, Seung-Yul Noh, Louis Oosthuizen (-6) — Not only did Mickelson — making his first start after his 50th birthday — keep up with McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau (his playing partners), he beat Dechambeau and hit the ball beautifully. I came into this week wondering what the path forward would be for Mickelson winning again on the PGA Tour, so of course he posts a top-10 strokes gained tee-to-green number on me and is in the mix at a tournament where he’s the two-time champion. Of course.
T11. Russell Henley, Tyler McCumber, Bryson DeChambeau, Brian Stuard, Rafa Cabrera Bello (-5) — We’ll talk about DeChambeau later in the week (because he’ll be in it until the end), but let’s talk about McCumber. He got jammed in the field on Wednesday after the five COVID-19-related withdrawals and was in a featured group with Chez Reavie and Jon Rahm. Somehow he emerged as the best score out of that group even after starting the first three holes 2 over. He played the rest of his round 7 under, including a nasty little 30 on the back nine, and did all of it after a week of hiking. Related: Golf is the dumbest (and most awesome) sport in the world.
T31. Jordan Spieth (-3) — Hit it great and didn’t putt at all. I’m one tournament away from giving up on understanding any of this. There have been some really great ball-striking rounds over the last three weeks, but it’s difficult to trust the consistency here.
T79. Dustin Johnson (-1) — Speaking of consistency, Johnson played his round on Thursday over field par despite shooting 1 under. Again, the field average was 1.5 under, which means D.J. has some work to do on Friday to make the cut. He’s had a weird last 15 months and just doesn’t seem like his usual ball-striking self.
• Collin Morikawa’s streak of 22 straight made cuts as a pro is in jeopardy after a 2-over 72. He’ll likely need a 65 or better on Friday just to see the weekend.
• Rory is the actual leader here. I presume everybody knows that, but it’s instructive to know that the lead going into Round 2 is 7 under rather than 10 under.
• Hughes won’t be the last player to challenge 59 (or better?) this week. Honestly, if one of the big names starts feeling himself (Rahm? Rory?), 58 or 57 seems like it could be in play with how easy TPC River Highlands is running right now.
• No fans on the course is still the best kind of professional golf.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest scores, updates and highlights from the Travelers Championship below. Check out the live scores at the top of this story or a more detailed leaderboard.