Jordan Spieth’s former roommate, Kramer Hickok, grabs early lead in Travelers Championship

Kramer Hickok used to live in Jordan Spieth’s home in Dallas.

Then he moved on to rule the roost on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada in 2017 when he earned the circuit’s player-of-the-year honors by winning twice and finishing second three times en route to capturing the Order of Merit.

The following year, he won the DAP Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour to secure his first PGA Tour card.

And on Thursday, he took up residence atop the leaderboard in the first round of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut. After an opening-hole bogey, Hickok birdied eight of his last 14 holes at TPC River Highlands to sign for a career-best, 7-under-par 63 as he searches for his first PGA Tour title.

While Hickok’s passage to the PGA Tour was anything but typical, so, too, was his flight to the top of the leaderboard. Hickok felt lost on the practice rounds ahead of the first round and was forced to make a change.

“I got off to like the worst warmup session of the year this morning and was just hitting it everywhere, and so I really changed my strategy,” said Hickok, 29. “I was just trying to play a little bit more conservative, hit greens, and once the putts started to fall, I just knew it really freed me up.

“I was hitting a lot of good putts. I really only hit one bad putt on the par-5 13, and other than that, I just felt like the holes looked awfully big today.”

Hickok’s clubhouse lead midway through the first round was one shot over Talor Gooch. Maverick McNealy, Henrik Norlander, Brice Garrett and Beau Hossler were two back at 65.

“It’s been a very difficult year for me,” Hossler said. “I made significant changes this off-season in my golf swing that were in my opinion absolutely necessary. Dana Dahlquist has helped me tremendously. Do a ton of work with him. I am very thankful for that.  With that said, unfortunately you feel like you have it and then it doesn’t show up in the tournament or whatever it may be.

“It’s a matter of getting comfortable in all different situations, wind directions, pin locations. Fortunately, I think I’m trending in that direction.”

World No. 6 Bryson DeChambeau shot 69, No. 7 Patrick Cantlay 68, and No. 9 Patrick Reed 69.

Hickok and Spieth met as freshman at the University of Texas in 2011. While Spieth turned pro a year later to begin his journey toward piling up Tour titles and major championships, Hickok graduated in 2015 with a degree in geography.

Hickok still had his sights set on playing professional golf and at the outset of that quest, Spieth extended an invitation to move into his house. Hickok said it was a helpful gesture as he set out to make his way in the golf world.

It’s been an educational journey for Hickok and the learning doesn’t end, the latest case in point being what to do when your range session is awful.

“It’s funny, because whenever that happens you hear guys shoot course records and shoot their best rounds. I don’t know if it’s a mentality, you just take a lot weight off your shoulders and you just go and simplify things. That’s what I did,” he said. “I just said, you know what? I got my C game, but just by recognizing that I had my C game I was able to play to an A level today. And certainly 7 under is my A game.

“I had a few shots in the bag today and I worked with them today and the flat stick got going, so I was able to make it work. We did a really good job of just staying in the moment, staying patient, and just taking our chances when we had them.”

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