The PGA rolls on this weekend with the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, CT. Thursday had its number of marquee groups that put on a show.
One of those was Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, and Bryson DeChambeau. They put together a spectacle during a relatively quiet day without fans in the gallery.
“It still is very different,” McIlroy said. “Everything is so different, from the surroundings, the routine. [The coronavirus pandemic is] not behind us, obviously. We’re still right in the middle of this. But it’s just been nice to get back into some competitive golf again. You know, it doesn’t feel the same because you’re not having thousands of people reacting to your birdies and getting that going.”
McIlroy sits behind the leader, Mackenzie Hughes (-10), at -7 after the first day. He had plenty of motivation after struggling to make the cut last week at RBC Heritage.
This group of three played well together, which led people to wonder whether it mattered or not who plays together. Can someone possibly play better because of their group?
“Yes, it matters tremendously,” Masters Champion Bubba Watson said. “There’s guys that are a shot, maybe a 2-shot penalty when you see their name on that sheet. Maybe that’s what they say about me, too, so I guess it works both ways. I like to have fun and be energetic. You know, when you see a certain name, you know you can joke around, you know you can have fun and kind of get away from the stress and not talking and just walking down the fairway.”
It seems to make sense. There are a number of guys that look to have a great time playing with each other. That loose approach to the round has to make a difference.
Phil Aims to Stay Competitive Against Young Talents
Phil Mickelson came out and shot a 64. He will be in contention this weekend with a solid appearance on Friday.
“I love my job. I love trying to play and compete, and I really enjoy playing with guys like Rory and Bryson, who are just tremendous talents,” said Mickelson. “I also enjoy trying to play my game and compete regardless of age.”
He has been around the game of golf for some time but has managed to still compete with the young talents. After the USGA released the U.S. Open exemptions, Mickelson found out that he will get another shot.
“No, that worked out great, to be able to know that I have a chance to go back to Winged Foot and give it another shot,” said Mickelson, who had a near-miss at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in 2006. “But I’ve had 30 U.S. Opens. I’ve had plenty of opportunities.”
Bryson DeChambeau is a young guy on the Tour that has made waves because of his playing ability. “Bryson has got a unique style of playing that is fascinating, and he plays at the highest level,” Mickelson said. “I enjoy kind of watching and learning.”