Harrington and Rose in front
Padraig Harrington and Justin Rose are in a four-way tie for the lead after round one of the Travelers Championship.
Padraig Harrington praised the current strength of European golf as Justin Rose joined him in a four-way share of the first-round lead at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell became the third European in a row after English duo Rose and Lee Westwood to complete successive victories in the United States as he won the US Open at Pebble Beach last week.
Irishman Harrington kept the flag flying with an opening six-under-par 64 at TPC River Highlands near Hartford during the morning and he was joined later in the day by Rose, playing his first tournament since winning the Memorial at the beginning of the month.
There have also been victories for England’s Ian Poulter and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy in the US this year and that, says the three-time major winner, augurs well for European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie and his bid to regain the trophy from Corey Pavin’s USA team at Celtic Manor in Wales this October, although Harrington still has a way to go if he is to make the team as an automatic selection.
“It obviously does bode well,” he said. “The Ryder Cup tends to be hard to win as a favourite team at times, so I’m sure there will be no doubt that the US will maybe try and make out that the Europeans are favoured and try and play that card.
“Certainly the Europeans used it for a long number of years.
“The Europeans are strong. I just dropped out of the automatic qualification, so I have to work hard to get on the team, which means there’s plenty of competition, there’s plenty of guys there.
“It’s not an easy team to qualify for, which is always a good sign that you’ve got a strong team.”
Seven birdies and just one bogey on the 6844-yard, par-70 course, ranked 36th in difficulty out of the 51 in use on the PGA Tour last year, put Harrington, starting from the 10 tee, into a three-way, one-stroke lead with Australian Mathew Goggin and South Korea’s Charlie Wi.
Rose, playing from the first tee, joined the morning trio with five birdies in a row after his lone bogey at the 12th.
Fiji’s Vijay Singh and Australians Matt Jones and Aron Price added their names at five under to an all-American quartet of Bubba Watson, Kevin Sutherland, Ben Curtis and US Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin who were a shot in arrears after each posting 65s.
Nine players finished the day with 66s while Swedish pair Carl Petterson and Mathias Gronberg were among those shooting three-under 67s with Australians Adam Scott, Rod Pampling and Michael Sim as well as Retief Goosen of South Africa posting 68s, four shots off the pace.
Defending champion Kenny Perry, who shot an opening course-record-equalling 61 12 months ago, was in a group finishing at one under, as was Scotland’s Martin Laird, Englishman Brian Davis and Sweden’s Daniel Chopra.
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