LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Cromwell, Conn. — Zach Johnson has shot a first-round 63 to take an early lead at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

The former Masters and British Open champion birdied six straight holes on the back nine and finished 7 under par, one shot ahead of American Peter Malnati.

Brooks Koepka followed his U.S. Open championship with a 2-under 68 on the TPC River Highland’s course, putting him five shots off the pace.

The Travelers was selected by the PGA last year as its “Tournament of the Year” and the “Players Choice.” That has helped attract a 156-player field that includes five of the world’s top 10 ranked golfers and all four reigning major championship winners.

British Open champ Jordan Spieth, who won last year’s tournament by holing out from a greenside bunker in a playoff, eagled his sixth hole of the first round by sinking his third shot from the sand and was 4 under par through eight holes. Rory McIlroy, who like Spieth played the tournament for the first time a year ago, was also at 4 under on the front nine.

Masters winner Patrick Reed and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas also were on the course Thursday afternoon.

European Tour

Sebastien Gros carded a 4-under 68 in windy conditions to lead by one shot after the opening round of the BMW International Open on Thursday in Pulheim, Germany.

The Frenchman had four birdies to take the lead before the turn, and a six-footer on the 15th hole moved him two ahead. But a bogey on the next hole left the 28-year-old Gros just one ahead of Jorge Campillo, Scott Jamieson, Aaron Rai and Henric Sturehed.

Sturehed eagled the par-5 No. 13 to take the lead in the morning at the Gut Laerchenhof club.

Christofer Blomstrand, Nico Geyger, Mark Tullo, Victor Perez, David Howell and Nicolai von Dellingshausen are a further stroke back on 2-under 70.

Lyle on the mend

Jarrod Lyle’s wife says the Australian golfer is struggling through a “really scary” period in his third battle with cancer in Melbourne, Australia.

Lyle, 36, underwent a bone marrow transplant last December following a recurrence of acute myeloid leukemia.

Briony Lyle, writing on jarrodlylegolf.com, says “It’s been 190 days since Jarrod’s stem-cell transplant and we are going through a really rough patch at the moment.

“I’m typing this blog on his behalf because he’s not able to do it. Jarrod’s not able to drive, struggles to prepare any food for himself, can’t read stories to the girls and is not able to offer much help at all around the house. He is also starting to look like a very frail, sick person.”

She adds: “We are both very aware of the amount of drugs and medication that has gone into Jarrod’s body over the years but things are starting to get really scary at the moment. It looks as if this recovery is going to be the longest and hardest one so far.”

Lyle has twice beaten acute myeloid leukemia, in 1998 and 2012, and was able to return to play professional golf.

He made an emotional comeback to the golf course during the 2013 Australian Masters in Melbourne before using a medical exemption to play on the U.S. PGA Tour in 2015. He played four seasons on the U.S. tour, where he earned $1.875 million in 121 tournaments.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE