Hunter Mahan Hunter Mahan early leader in weather-delayed Travelers Championship

Hunter Mahan sounded anything but surprised about his first-round performance in the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn.

Mahan fired a first-round score of 8-under-par 62 to take a two-stroke lead over Chris DiMarco as play was halted due to bad weather with 39 golfers still out on the course Thursday at TPC at River Highlands. Mahan, who is coming off finishing in a 13th-place tie at last weekend's U.S. Open, will be looking for just his second first-round lead on the PGA Tour when play resumes early Friday morning.

"I like this golf course, I like playing here," Mahan told reporters. "I feel comfortable on the course. A lot of the holes fit my eye very well, and I feel like the last couple of weeks I've actually progressed on a lot of my game, so I feel good about that, too."

Mahan set himself up in good position for his first Tour victory and his ninth career top-10 finish with a round that featured 10 birdies and two bogeys on the par-70, 6,820-yard layout. The California native, who turned pro in 2003, said his confidence lately has been sky high.

"My feelings and my game and my swing and everything feel good," said Mahan, whose first-round 62 was one shot off the course record. "I've made pretty good strides in my game the last couple of weeks so it feels good.

"It's all kind of coming together. The swing is really coming together and I'm finally getting confidence in my putting, which is huge. If you can make putts anywhere, you can succeed."

Mahan opened his round with four consecutive birdies before making bogey on No. 7 and a birdie on No. 9. He then went on another four-birdie run on holes 11-14, made bogey at No. 16 and birdie at No. 17, despite having to wait out a weather delay for more than an hour after hitting his tee shot on 17.

"The delay wasn't too bad," Mahan said. "It was quick actually. It came out of nowhere, it seemed like. It wasn't a big deal."

Mahan said his round Thursday was a stark contrast to the 72 holes he played in the Open at Oakmont Country Club.

"It's a complete grind and your brain takes a beating," Mahan said of the U.S. Open. "I definitely felt a little more relaxed here."

Making his first start in the event since 2002, DiMarco shot a 6-under 64 early in the day. The 64 marked DiMarco's best first-round score in the event - - an effort made more impressive by the fact that he's battling tendonitis in his rotator cuff as well as arthritis of the AC joint and a bone spur that required him to get a cortisone shot.

"This is what golf should be," DiMarco told reporters, referring to the contrast in course conditions with last week's U.S. Open. "It shouldn't be about plus 20s and plus 25s. If we started doing that every week, I think we would lose our fans. I think they want to see us make birdies."

June 22, 2007

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