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Rory McIlroy tied his lowest opening round on the PGA Tour as a bogey-free 62 gave him the first lead at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

The Northern Irishman, starting from the back nine, started his game with a birdie chip-in at par five 13 after blasting his greenside bunker into the far fringe. Two more birdies saw him turn 32, but he then threw four more in seven holes – including a 48ft on the 7th.

McIlroy kept his best until the last par four when he cut the corner with a 332-yard drive to leave him 44 yards to the pin. He then birdied to eight under par, one stroke ahead of Xander Schauffele and Scotland’s Martin Laird.

He may have only hit seven of 14 fairways, but McIlroy was happy to have maintained his form after winning the Canadian Open two weeks ago and then finishing fifth at the US Open, at four strokes from the winner, Matt Fitzpatrick.

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“I think the good thing is that I played well and you want to ride that wave of momentum that you have,” McIlroy said in his post-tour interview. “Coming here, I knew I was going to be a bit tired, but every time you play this well, you just want to keep it going.

“If I had taken this week off, I would have sat at home thinking it was a missed opportunity,” added the world number 2. “I got off to a good start, landed some quality shots early on which gave me confidence and I built on that. When I got into the back nine, I started playing really well and started making a few putts.

Another player for whom preparation was not what he wanted was Schauffele, as confusion over tee times meant his arrival at TPC River Highlands was slightly more rushed than usual.

This did not affect the American as he hit 18 greens in regulation time to complete a bogey-free 63, a round matched by Laird. Charles Howell III and Webb Simpson are one stroke further, tied for fourth place.


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