Golf: Taylor in early share of Travelers lead

Vaughn Taylor of the United States plays his shot from the 18th tee during the first round of the travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on Aug 4 in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Vaughn Taylor of the United States plays his shot from the 18th tee during the first round of the travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on Aug 4 in Cromwell, Connecticut. PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - American journeyman Vaughn Taylor birdied five of his last seven holes to rocket into a tie for the early lead in Thursday's opening round of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Taylor, whose 2016 campaign has veered between the brilliant and the frustrating, fired a six-under 64 on a sunny day at the TPC River Highlands to set the tournament pace with compatriot Andrew Loupe.

Spaniard Jon Rahm, competing in his fifth PGA Tour event since turning professional in June, eagled the par-five 13th on the way to a 65, ending the round level with Australian Marc Leishman and American Ben Martin.

Taylor, who has missed nine cuts on the PGA Tour since clinching his third career victory on the US circuit at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, caught fire on his back nine after reaching the turn in one-under 34.

With his approach play in sparkling order, he reeled off five consecutive birdies from the par-four 12th to surge up the leader board.

"I played good early, just couldn't get a putt to go," Taylor, 40, told PGA Tour Radio.

"I just didn't hit it quite close enough really and then I hit a good fairway bunker shot on nine, hit a good putt there and just kind of got things going.

"I was feeling good. I was hitting some good shots and the putter started feeling better. You know, you just get on a run sometimes and just kind of ride it."

Taylor could certainly do with an extended run of good form, having finished no better than joint 33rd since he ended a PGA Tour title drought of more than a decade with his Pebble Beach win.

Prior to that, Taylor not played a full season on the PGA Tour since 2012 while bouncing between the elite US circuit and the satellite Web.com tour.

Twice Masters champion Bubba Watson, who won the Travelers Championship for a second time last year at one of his most treasured venues, was among the late starters on Thursday.