June 22. 2018 12:49AM

Spieth rebounds, shares Travelers first-round lead

Field Level Media


Jordan Spieth hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Travelers Championship on Thursday at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn. (John Woike/Hartford Courant/TNS)

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, coming off a horrible showing in the U.S. Open, made a nice turnaround Thursday in the opening round of the Travelers Championship at Cromwell, Conn.

Spieth shot a 7-under-par 63 at TPC Highlands to share the first-round lead with Zach Johnson.

Johnson tied his career best by making six consecutive birdies on holes 11 through 16. He had eight birdies and one bogey.

Last week in the U.S. Open, Spieth spot 78-71, 9 over par, and missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills. Johnson recovered from a slow start to tie for 12th in the U.S. Open.

Spieth’s front nine Thursday featured two birdies and an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole. His second shot from a greenside bunker on No. 6 left him a 31-foot eagle putt that he sank. He added four birdies and a lone bogey on the back nine.

“I’ve been sticking to the process,” Spieth said, according to golfdigest.com. “I’ve been very positive about making progress from how I got pretty off earlier this year. So it’s good to see a good score. Those are obviously nice to see. But still a long way to go. It’s round one. ...

“The putter feels great. Actually the last two events I missed the cut and actually putted really well. Beat the field by at least a shot. But I put so much time into putting that my ball-striking fell off. I’m starting to kind of even things out now. The ball-striking has a little ways to go yet, but the putter feels fantastic. I’m seeing my lines better and it’s a matter of time before it gets to the level I’ve been at before.”

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who also missed the cut at Shinnecock Hills following rounds of 80 and 70, was at 6 under Thursday to share third place with Americans Brian Harman and Peter Malnati.

McIlroy produced seven birdies and a lone bogey at No. 18 — the only hole on which he missed the green in regulation.

“I’ve had a little bit of time to practice the last few days, working on some stuff that stood out over the first two days at Shinnecock, especially with the wind,” McIlroy said.

“It sort of magnifies what you’re doing wrong. It was nice to get some time to work on those things.

“I felt good out there today. I felt pretty comfortable with the changes I’m trying to make and hit some pretty good shots.”

Australia’s Matt Jones, England’s Paul Casey, and American Beau Hossler are tied for sixth at 5-under par.