CROMWELL, Conn. – Denny McCarthy came inches from shooting a 59, settling for a 10-under 60 on Thursday for the lowest round of his PGA Tour career, and Rory McIlroy made his first ace on tour on a day of low numbers at the Travelers Championship.
Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott also made runs at golf's magic number — on a course where Jim Furyk set the PGA Tour record with a 58 in 2016 — but faltered late. Each shot 62.
Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 player in the world, finished with a 7-under 63.
The 30-year-old McCarthy, who started on the back nine, had five birdies on his first six holes and five more coming in.
The Maryland native's last birdie came on the 403-yard ninth hole after his 169-yard approach shot skirted just left of the cup, eliciting a gasp from the crowd. He holed a 5-footer for birdie.
“I felt positive from the second I woke up this morning,” said McCarthy, who is winless on tour despite several close calls, including at the Memorial this year. “So, everything just kind of clicked today. It was obviously just a great day.”
Adam Scott was at 9 under when his second shot at No. 17 found the lake. He made double bogey, then finished with a 20-footer for birdie on No. 18.
“It's a shame, but it's hard to be disappointed with a 62,” the 42-year-old Australian said.
Shane Lowry, Eric Cole and 2019 champion Chez Reavie each finished with bogey-free 64s.
Eight players shot 65, and 91 players broke par on a day where the expected rain and wind held off and the sun broke through in the afternoon.
Bradley got things started in the morning with birdies on his first five holes. Those included a 75-foot downhill putt from just off the green on the 17th hole, which kept gaining speed, but hit the flagstick and dropped.
The TPC River Highlands is known for low scoring. In addition to Furyk's 58, Patrick Cantlay shot 60 as an amateur in 2011 and Mackenzie Hughes matched it in 2000. Hughes withdrew with an illness Thursday after shooting 76.
Bradley, a 37-year-old Vermont native, said he could not help but think about matching Furyk's record.
“When I made that really long putt on 17, and it could have gone in the water, I don't know, it crossed my mind,” he said. “I wasn't thinking about it a lot, but I certainly was going to try and do it.”
The shot of the day came from McIlroy, whose tee shot on the 214-yard eighth landed just below the hole and rolled into the cup. McIlroy, the runner-up at last week's U.S. Open, finished with a 2-under 68.
It was McIlroy's second ace in competition. He made one in Abu Dhabi on the European tour in 2015.
“That was the best shot of the day that I hit,” he said. “It's obviously a bonus for it to go in the hole, but it was really cool.”
Wyndham Clark, fresh off his U.S. Open win, shot 68.
The 29-year-old Denver native, who won his first PGA Tour event last month at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, said he got emotional after being introduced on the first tee as the U.S. Open champion.
“It kind of caught me off guard a little bit,” Clark said. “I actually got a little nervous. But then I hit a great shot and I hit it farther than I think I would have, just because of the nerves.”
Clark hit a spectator in the head after slicing his tee shot on the par-3 fifth hole. He holed a 16-foot putt to save par.
The Travelers Championship became one of the PGA Tour's designated events this year, with the purse raised from $8.3 million to $20 million.
The tour's top players are essentially required to play in 16 of the 17 designated events, which meant a flight across the country from Los Angeles after the U.S. Open.
“We traveled all day Monday and then I played nine holes Tuesday and that’s pretty much it,” Scheffler said. “Didn’t practice at all.”