(Reuters) - PGA Tour rookie Tyler McCumber, a late alternate into the Travelers Championship field in Cromwell, Connecticut following a number of withdrawals due to COVID-19 concerns, made the most of his opportunity on Thursday.
When McCumber returned on Tuesday from a solo camping trip in North Carolina he figured he had no chance of joining this week’s major-calibre field but then got a call from the PGA Tour about the option of possibly getting to Connecticut.
“I found out yesterday afternoon that sort of things working out a certain way would possibly get me in,” McCumber said after an opening five-under-par 65.
“I got the confirmation about 3:00 on that, and the last flight out of Jacksonville was 5:30, so had to pack in about 25 minutes and head to the airport.”
McCumber took world number five Webb Simpson’s spot in the field after the 2012 U.S. Open champion withdrew out of caution after a family member tested positive for COVID-19.
The 29-year-old American, who set out early in the fifth group off the 10th tee with world number two Jon Rahm and Chez Reavie, hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and was solid with his putter with no misses from within 10 feet.
McCumber responded immediately after a double-bogey at the par-four 12th when he hit his 258-yard approach at the par-five 13th to three feet, setting himself up for an eagle. He then birdied five of his final nine holes.
“Obviously getting back into some competition and competitive mode after some time off, little adjustments here and there, but it definitely clicked today, and I felt like this round was sort of coming,” he said.
Next up for McCumber after a late night and whirlwind 24 hours is rest. “I’m going to take a good nap this afternoon, that’s for sure,” he said.
“We got in late last night, and obviously just emotions, sort of an array of high, low, going from not being in to maybe in and then sort of that not knowing and then knowing and then scrambling to get to the airport.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris