GOLF

Kodaira, Hickok each shoot 63 to share Travelers lead

Jun 24, 2021, 4:03 PM | Updated: 4:03 pm
Kramer Hickok watches his shot off the ninth tee during the first round of the Travelers Championsh...

Kramer Hickok watches his shot off the ninth tee during the first round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Cromwell, Conn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Satoshi Kodaira and Kramer Hickok each shot a PGA Tour career-best 7-under 63 to share the first-round lead Thursday in the Travelers Championship.

Talor Gooch was a stroke behind Hickok after the morning rounds. Kodaira took the lead at 8 under in the afternoon after making the turn onto the front nine birdie-eagle-birdie, but a bogey on the par-3 eighth dropped him back into a tie with Hickok.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson, who held the world No. 1 ranking until Jon Rahm passed him Sunday with his U.S. Open victory, stumbled at the start with a bogey on the second hole and then a double on No. 3. He finished with a pair of birdies to end the day at 70 at TPC River Highlands.

Two-time Travelers champion Phil Mickelson sank a 64-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 ninth hole — his second-longest putt since the tour began tracking such things in 2004. The 2001 and ’02 winner then made a 40-footer for par on No. 10.

“That long birdie putt, it’s just a bonus. You’re just trying to lag it up there close and it just felt in,” Mickelson said. “Same thing on 10, after making a mistake and having that long par putt. To make it was a nice little boost. Unfortunately, I didn’t advantage of that on the back nine.”

Micklelson was 1 over on the back in a 69.

“I let a good opportunity go after playing the front nine a couple under,” he said. “I was very close to hitting a lot of really good shots but they were just fractionally off.”

Kodaira’s 63 matched his best score on the PGA Tour, from the second round of the 2018 RBC Heritage — his only victory. He was helped when he holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the 348-yard, par-4 second hole.

“I knew it was on target but didn’t see it go in,” he said. “I heard the applause, so I knew it went in.”

Hickok’s top finish is a tie for eighth at the Bermuda Championship this year. He opened with a bogey on the par-4 10th hole, then rattled off eight birdies without dropping another stroke the rest of the way.

He missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole, but then birdied five of the next seven holes and he played the last four of the day in three under.

“I really only hit one bad putt — on the par-5 13th. Other than that, I just felt like the holes looked awfully big today,” he said. “I made a lot of good putts today, and the greens says are rolling so good that just the holes look big.”

Hickok said he had his worst warmup session of the year in the morning, spraying the ball all over the range.

“So I really changed my strategy,” he said. “You just take a lot weight off your shoulders and you just go and simplify things … just saying, ‘I don’t have that shot today. I’m not going to try and hit it.’ Just go with what you got.”

Penguin Air

Golf

FILE - Signage for LIV Golf is displayed during the pro-am round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV...
Associated Press

LIV Golf joins antitrust lawsuit against PGA Tour as 4 players drop off

Saudi-funded LIV Golf joined the antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in an amended complaint in which four players removed their names.
1 month ago
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches a putt on the eighth green during the second round of th...
Haboob Blog

Rory McIlroy launches remote control ball off green at BMW Championship

It's not every day that a professional golfer gets to show off their arm while out on the course in the middle of a round.
1 month ago
Will Zalatoris of the United States reacts on the 18th green in regulation after putting in to forc...
Associated Press

Will Zalatoris secures 1st-career PGA win in opening leg of FedEx Cup Playoffs

After a handful of close calls since his arrival on the PGA Tour, Will Zalatoris secured his first win at the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
1 month ago
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 12: Bottles litter the 16th hole after a hole-in-one by Sam Ryder of...
Nikash Nath

2023 WM Phoenix Open set for week of Super Bowl LVII

The 2023 Waste Management Phoenix Open is set for Feb. 6-12 at TPC Scottsdale, with Super Bowl LVII scheduled for Feb. 12 in Glendale.
2 months ago
Cameron Smith, of Australia, holds the claret jug trophy as he poses for photographers on the 18th ...
Associated Press

Cameron Smith outlasts Rory McIlroy to win British Open at St. Andrews

The show belonged to Cameron Smith with the best closing round the Old Course had ever seen with an 8-under 64.
2 months ago
Viktor Hovland, of Norway, lines up a putt on the 18th green during the third round of the British ...
Associated Press

McIlroy, Hovland share lead heading to final day at British Open

McIlroy and Hovland, who are at 16-under par, had little trouble Saturday at the British Open at St. Andrews.
2 months ago
Kodaira, Hickok each shoot 63 to share Travelers lead