June 23 (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy hit a squirrelly first shot at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut on Saturday — but that was hardly surprising after the distraction he faced on the tee.
The Northern Irishman had taken a couple of waggles with his driver and was just about to pull the trigger when a nervous squirrel darted onto the teeing ground, about 10 yards directly in front of the player.
McIlroy aborted his swing and started laughing, as the squirrel scurried off to exit stage right, but it was unable to find a way through the packed gallery lining the fairway.
The rodent then bounded across to the other side of the fairway, but was similarly blocked from exiting, so it headed back to the tee ground, where McIlroy’s caddie Harry Diamond chased it away.
The term ‘squirrelly shot’ in golf is often used to describe one that’s not struck well and, sure enough, when McIlroy finally hit his drive, it sailed off wide right into the rough.
While the squirrel reappeared on the teeing ground moments later at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, McIlroy tried to atone for his errant tee shot but despite making the green with his second, then three-putted from long range for an opening bogey.
The poor start dropped him four strokes behind overnight leader Brian Harman at TPC River Highlands.
American Harman was due to tee off at 10-under par, one stroke ahead of compatriots Zach Johnson and Russell Henley, and Australian Matt Jones. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina Editing by Ian Chadband)