CROMWELL ——The way Justin Rose played three weeks ago in winning the Memorial carried over. His form was nearly the same, too.
But Rose had spent the better part of 12 years beginning a tournament without the mental strain of a previous victory weighing on him. Why let it bother him now?
The 29-year-old Englishman shot a 6-under-par 64 Thursday, with five straight birdies late in the day, making him the only afternoon player to share the lead after the first round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands.
The round brought another good omen for Rose. The Memorial, his first win in 161 PGA Tour events, was delayed by rain each of the first three days, and there was a delay Thursday afternoon as well.
"I came out there very even-keeled today — very relaxed, very calm, very much in the moment, in the present," Rose said. "I wasn't thinking I had just won a golf tournament, but it was nice that the form carried through over two weeks, but the mind-set had to be very much in the moment."
Rose gained notoriety in 1998 when he finished fourth at the British Open and turned pro the next day. He then struggled mightily, missing the cut in his next 21 tournaments, and failed to make the top 10 of any PGA Tour event until 2003, though Rose did win five international tournaments and was the European Tour money leader in 2007.
Rose's results at the Travelers have been up and down since he first played in 2004. He tied for 71st that year, tied for third in 2005 — then the second-best finish of his career — and missed the cut last year despite shooting 2 under.
Rose was back on his game Thursday. He birdied the par-4 third and par-4 ninth, then, set off by a bogey on the par-4 12th, rallied for birdies over his next five holes, sinking a 35-foot putt on No. 17.
He was within 12 feet of closing his round with a sixth consecutive birdie but missed the putt.
Rose's score could have been even lower. He two-putted two of those birdies.
"It's not easy," Rose said. "I did a good job today. The goal now and the test [this morning] is to go out and be in the moment again."