Perry shoots stunning 61 to lead in Connecticut

Kenny Perry shot a course record-equalling 61 at TPC River Highlands to take the lead in the Travelers Championship at the end of the first round in Connecticut last night.

Kenny Perry shot a course record-equalling 61 at TPC River Highlands to take the lead in the Travelers Championship at the end of the first round in Connecticut last night.

Perry had his sights set on becoming the fourth player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59 after making the turn in 29 on a short, 6,841-yard course softened by the relentless rain in the US north-east and with little wind in Cromwell.

Hopes of matching Al Geiberger in 1977, Chip Beck in 1991 and David Duval 10 years ago grew weaker when Perry missed a short birdie putt on the par-three 16th and needing a birdie, birdie finish to get to 59 he had to settle for par on both the closing two holes.

Despite a nine-birdie, no-bogey round that needed just 25 putts, Perry was left a little disappointed with having become the fifth person to shoot a 61 at TPC River Highlands.

"It's good I guess, but it's only Thursday," Perry said. "That's not my ultimate goal.

"It was an easy round, very relaxed. I hit it where I needed to hit it on every hole, didn't hit it in the rough anywhere, my iron game was really sharp.

"I felt like my game was coming, I knew I didn't play very well last week (at the US Open) in the rain and poor conditions and I felt like my game was changing. I hit some real quality iron shots.

"It was just a great start, a nice, fun almost magical round. I was hoping to get that number."

The benign conditions made it a day of low scoring and Perry's nine-under-par lead was kept at two shots by 63s from fellow Americans Paul Goydos and Charles Warren, with Perry's Ryder Cup Valhalla team-mate Boo Weekley, Tag Ridings - who aced the 155-yard par-three 11th, Spencer Levin and Australia's Greg Chalmers lying a further shot back on six-under.

US Open champion Lucas Glover and the Bethpage Black joint runner-up Ricky Barnes were among the nine players shooting five-under 65s with 20 players including Vijay Singh of Fiji and US Ryder Cuppers Hunter Mahan and Anthony Kim on four-under.

World number four Sergio Garcia, the highest ranked player in the field, Sweden's Jesper Parnevik and England's Greg Owen finished the day with 67s.

Another Englishman, Justin Rose, and Swede Fredrik Jacobsen were among those shooting 68s while Londoner Brian Davis was at level-par following his 70.

While the US heroes from Valhalla enjoyed a good day in Connecticut, their captain from last September's victory over Europe Paul Azinger had a far less satisfying day.

After shooting a 68, Azinger was disqualified for playing a non-conforming ball.

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