(Updates with third-round score)
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.
McIlroy 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.
He 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.
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, the Briton 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.
McIlroy also three-putted the final green from only 11 feet to finish his third round.
He struck his first putt too hard and then lipped out a four-footer after earlier chipping in for an eagle at the par-four 15th.
The four-times major champion carded 69 to fall eight strokes behind Paul Casey, who carded 62 to take the lead at 16-under-par 194. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina Editing by Ian Chadband)