Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson can't match David Mathis' ace at Travelers

Webb Simpson made five birdies and one bogey.
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) - David Mathis hoped to start strong at the Travelers Championship after missing the cut last week in the U.S. Open.

The 38-year-old Mathis birdied his first hole, then holed out from 158 yards on the par-3 11th hole. He knocked in a 49-foot birdie putt on his third, was at 6-under par after six holes, and fished with a 6-under 64 for a one-shot lead.

``It was an awesome start,'' said Mathis, who has never finished better than eighth in a PGA Tour event. ``I was hitting a lot of great shots (later), and I guess it felt like a lull compared to how I started.''

Nathan Green, Will Claxton and defending champion Fredrik Jacobson shot 65 on a day that saw temperatures soar into the upper 90s.

U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson and Masters winner Bubba Watson played together and finished in a group of 10 at 66. The third member of the threesome, PGA champion Keegan Bradley, shot a 68.

``We were relaxed all day,'' Simpson said. ``Bubba is my Presidents Cup partner. We always laugh together. And I've played a lot of golf with Keegan this year. He's a good friend. We had a lot of fun feeding off each other, and luckily, we all played well.''

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Mathis' ace was the shot of the day. He said he was just trying to cut a nine iron close to the pin and hit it exactly where he aimed.

``It kind of bounced and stumbled right and went right in the hole,'' he said.

Green teed off at 6:50 a.m., well before heat and humidity set in, setting the early mark with a 65. Claxton opened his round with a birdie and an eagle, but finished with a bogey on 18.

``To start out birdie-eagle, that's huge,'' Claxton said. ``I obviously had the driver going. I drove the ball well today. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be.''

Jacobson, who picked up his only PGA Tour win at the event a year ago, spent much of the day atop the leaderboard before a double bogey on 16 dropped him to 5 under and into a three-way tie for second.

``I knew it was going to be challenging in this heat, and if you start to miss a few shots, it can get to you,'' he said. ``So I was just happy to get through this day.''

One of Jacobson's playing partner's, former Masters champion Zach Johnson, also had a tough finish. He was 3 under when he hit a drive over the green at 15. He made a 6 there and a seven on the par-4 17th, where he tried to putt from the fringe, and needed three more after making it to the green.

A gallery of fans five and six deep greeted Simpson, Watson, and Bradley on the first tee, and many followed them throughout what all three said was a relaxed round.

``Any time you can play with those guys, it's fun,'' Watson said. ``We learn from each other. We watch each other. We're making some jokes out there. We were having a good time. It was good.''

But it wasn't fun for everybody. Former UCLA star Patrick Cantlay made his professional debut with a 75 on the same course where he made headlines last year with a second-round 60 as a 19-year-old amateur.

``I started off poorly with a couple of doubles and couple weird things happened, and it just added up to a bad round,'' Cantlay said.

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