Charley Hoffman missed the course record by a stroke, but shot 61 Thursday to take the lead after the first round of the Travelers Championship, a year after he blew a two-stroke advantage on the tournament’s final two holes. In his latest round, Hoffman hit a 126-yard approach shot within 3-feet of the pin to help him birdie 18 and separate himself by a stroke from Hunter Mahan, who posted an early 62. Bubba Watson was two strokes back. Hoffman said he thought he might have a chance to go even lower, and was flirting with 59 after making eagle on 10 and 12, and going to 8-under par with a birdie on 16. His 28 on the back nine was the lowest 9-hole score on Tour this year
BMW INTERNATIONAL OPEN
Ernie Els shot a 9-under 63, making an eagle and seven birdies, on Thursday to hold the clubhouse lead in the opening round of the BMW International Open. The South African, who won the British Open in 2002 and 2012 and the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997, almost had a second eagle on the last hole that would have equaled a course record. He settled for a birdie that gave him the overall lead. Els is one stroke ahead of Matthew Baldwin of England, Alex Noren of Sweden, Robert-Jan Derksen of the Netherlands, and Martin Kaymar, who delighted the home crowd by finishing in the afternoon with three successive birdies, nine in all.
NW ARKANSAS CHAMPIONSHIP
Inbee Park is back playing golf after a week off following her win at the LPGA Championship. The LPGA’s top-ranked golfer highlights a field of 97 of the top 100 players on the money list at this week’s NW Arkansas Championship, a three-day event that serves as a lead-in this year to next week’s U.S. Open. Park won the LPGA Championship two weeks ago after a grueling 39-hole final day, outlasting Catriona Matthew in a three-hole playoff. The win was the South Korean’s fourth of the year, her sixth in her last 22 starts. Park took over the top spot in the rankings from Stacy Lewis in April. Lewis, who played collegiately at the nearby University of Arkansas, is the hometown favorite this week.
Masters champion Adam Scott has entered November’s Australian Open at Royal Sydney, meaning he’ll play at least three times in four weeks Down Under — and possibly all four. Scott’s appearance at the Australian Open from Nov. 28-Dec. 1 was announced Thursday. He’ll also play the Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast — his hometown — from Nov. 7-10. He then defends his Australian Masters title the following week at Royal Melbourne. The World Cup is scheduled the week following the Australian Masters — from Nov. 21-24, also at Royal Melbourne — and Scott could represent Australia as the country’s highest-ranked player.