Justin Rose hit a three-under-par round of 67 at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut last night as he returned to action for the first time since his US Open triumph.
Four days after becoming the first Englishman since Nick Faldo, in 1996, to win a major, the 32-year-old had to settle for finishing six shots behind first-round leader Charley Hoffman at the Cromwell course.
Hunter Mahan, who was one of Rose's fiercest rivals for the title right up until the closing stages at Merion, is one shot back after a 62, while 2012 Masters winner Bubba Watson is on seven under.
Six further players carded five-under-par rounds of 65, while Ireland's Padraig Harrington is at four-under. Lee Westwood is tied with Rose a shot further back.
"Being announced as the 2013 US Open champion, I couldn't help but smile before I hit my first tee shot," admitted Rose to reporters.
"That's an achievement that I've been dreaming about."
Rose had more reason to smile when he birdied the first, but three bogeys in the next four holes left him two over par.
He then birdies the seventh and picked up four further shots in five holes from the 12th to remain in contention.
"I had a sluggish four or five holes where I struggled, but I stayed patient," he added. "I've stayed sort of committed to the same things that worked so well for me last week. That was my goal today, really.
"When you play a tournament like this, it's about keeping steady pace. If you put four rounds in the mid 60s together, you're going to be very, very close."
Hoffman hit two eagles in a stunning opening 61 for nine under.
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