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Xander Schauffele shoots 63 to take five-shot lead, Wellesley’s Michael Thorbjornsen seven back at Travelers

Xander Schauffele shot 31 on the front nine at TPC River Highlands with four birdies.Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Xander Schauffele shot his second straight 7-under-par 63 Friday to take a five-stroke lead in the Travelers Championship at Cromwell, Conn.

The Olympic champion shot a 31 on the front nine at TPC River Highlands with four birdies, then had a 32 on the back, making birdies on 11, 14 and 17.

He has hit 33 of 36 greens in regulation and is the only player in the tournament without a bogey. His closest call came close at the par-3 16th, where he hit his tee shot found the rough behind a greenside bunker.

“It plays really interesting with the wind swirling through there,” Schauffele said. “It was my least committed swing of the week and just really happy to get up and down there and save par.”


Amateur Michael Thorbjornsen of Wellesley shot 65 and is 7 under, in a tie for 16th heading into the weekend.

Kevin Kisner (64), Nick Hardy (64), defending champion Harris English (65), Cam Davis (66), and Patrick Cantlay (67) were tied for second at 9 under. First-round leaders Rory McIlroy and J.T. Poston followed opening 62s with 70s to drop six strokes back.

Cantlay, who shot a 60 at TPC River Highlands as an amateur in 2011, played in the same morning group as English.

English, who won on the eighth hole of a playoff last year, is playing in his third tournament since returning in May from Valentine’s Day surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip.

“The toughest thing is walking and playing,” English said. “I mean, I feel like back home I can go hit a bunch of balls on the range, but up and down these hills and being on your feet for five or six hours is the toughest part. It’s getting better and better, and I feel like the more I play competitive rounds out here, it’s just going to get stronger.”


Hardy, starting on the back nine had four consecutive birdies on 16, 17, 18 and 1. He also is coming back from injury after damaging the tendon is his left wrist in April.

“I just was in great rhythm,” Hardy said. “That’s kind of been the name of the game for me since I came back. Just being in good rhythm. I think I’m swinging the club well and my mind is in a good spot.”

Schauffele, played one group ahead of McIlroy, who was still leading by a stroke at 13 under before getting into trouble on the 12th hole.

McIlroy hit his tee shot left and out of bounds into the woods, then found the deep rough to the right on his next shot. He put the ball into a green-side bunker from there, then chipped out short of the green and into the rough again, before finishing with a quadruple bogey.

He left the hole trailing by three strokes and then found more trouble on the 15th. He went right on his tee shot, finding the high grass, then ran his third shot over the green, down the hill and into the water. He finished that hole with a 6.

But he made birdie on 16, finishing with an even-par 70 when his birdie putt lipped out on 18.

“I should be closer to the lead,” he said. “Feel like I let a lot of guys into the golf tournament because of it.”


Women’s PGA Championship — In Gee Chun shot a 3-under-par 69 to increase her lead to six strokes halfway through the championship at Bethesda, Md.

Chun led by five after the first round, equaling the biggest 18-hole advantage in the history of women’s major championships. The Congressional Country Club course was a bit more forgiving Friday, and she began with three birdies in the first five holes.

Bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8, however, kept her from opening a even bigger lead,

Lydia Ko (67) and Jennifer Kupcho (68) were second. Kupcho took the first major of the season in early April in the California desert and won a playoff Sunday in Michigan for her second LPGA Tour title.

After wet conditions for the first round brought the course’s length into focus, it was a clear, warm day Friday. Ko’s impressive performance set the tone early on. Like Chun, Ko is trying for her third major title and first since 2016.

Lexi Thompson matched Ko with a 67 of her own, highlighted by an eagle when she holed out a wedge from 102 yards on the par-4 17th.

US Women’s Open champ Minjee Lee (68) was with Thompson at 3 under.

US Senior Open — Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker are going at it again on a big stage, and this time they have more say over the outcome.


The Ryder Cup captains from Whistling Straits last September will be in the final group going into the weekend at Saucon Valley in Bethlehem, Pa., after Harrington birdied three of his last six holes for a 6-under-par 65 to take a one-shot lead.

Stricker, whose US team of stars throttled Europe in the Ryder Cup, did some nifty work of his own to overcome a sloppy start. He birdied his last three holes for a 69.

Harrington was at 6-under 136 going into a weekend that will not include Bernhard Langer for the first time since the German great was still in his 40s.

The 64-year-old Langer needed a birdie on his final hole to have any chance of making the cut. He made bogey for a 75 and missed by two shots. It was the first time in 65 senior majors that Langer failed to qualify for the weekend.

Jay Haas, the 68-year-old who on Thursday became the fifth player in US Senior Open history to shoot his age with a 67, had to settle for Tom Watson’s age Friday. That was a 72, and it was good enough to keep him in the mix at Saucon Valley.

Rob Labritz, the longtime club professional who earned a PGA Tour Champions card this season, had another 69 and was two shots behind Harrington.