PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Sam Burns saved piling up birdies Friday, turning a stable begin into an important spherical of 8-under 63 for a share of the lead within the Valspar Championship.
Keegan Bradley received there with one shot.
Bradley ended his spherical by holing out for eagle from 100 yards within the ninth fairway, over a deep bunker to the elevated inexperienced. The shot left him guessing till he noticed the followers leap out of their seats. That gave him a 66 and the perfect uphill stroll at Innisbrook.
“I turned an excellent day into an important day,” Bradley mentioned. “Man, it was a enjoyable day. And what a technique to end. It was a blast.”
Bradley and Burns have been at 12-under 130, and their play within the steamy afternoon on the Copperhead course gave them a bit of separation beginning out the weekend.
Bradley, whose longest par putt was 4 toes in his bogey-free opening spherical, opened with two fast birdies earlier than developing in need of the inexperienced on the twelfth gap and making his first bogey. Birdies have been arduous to come back by the remainder of the best way, however he made up for it with one swing.
With the steep hill, he performed the 100-yard shot as if it have been 119, after which he added 6 yards to account for a bit of wind. It was a niche wedge. “An ideal shot,” he mentioned.
“You’ll be able to’t see the inexperienced from down there, so you must look ahead to the group’s response,” he mentioned. “And when everybody places their arms up, usually meaning it goes in. So one other bonus of getting followers out right here. It makes it much more thrilling for everyone.”
Perhaps not for Phil Mickelson. The five-time main champion mentioned he’s struggling to maintain his focus, or to regain his focus after distractions within the gallery, equivalent to a cellphone ringing. He bogeyed two of his final three holes for a 69 to overlook the reduce by one shot.
“My bodily skill to refocus, to again away after which refocus and so forth, I am bodily not capable of do it proper now,” the 50-year-old Mickelson mentioned.
Burns had a number of key par saves early in his spherical, and he took off after making the flip. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 10, reached the par-5 eleventh in two for a birdie after which holed a bunker shot on the twelfth.
“Birdied the primary three on the again after which simply form of we’re off,” he mentioned.
Burns had a one-shot lead after 54 holes within the Houston Open in November and closed with a 72 to tie for seventh. He had a two-shot lead at Riviera going into the final spherical and shot 69 to complete one shot out of a playoff received by Homa.
“For me it is simply sticking to what I have been doing, having an excellent recreation plan going into the day,” he mentioned. “I do know over the weekend there might be some challenges, and I am excited for the chance.”
Homa nonetheless has loads of confidence from his win two months in the past at Riviera, and it exhibits. He would not really feel as if any a part of his recreation is out of order, and his placing has been excellent. Homa has made 5 putts of 25 toes or longer.
And his brief observe report at Innisbrook — three appearances, three missed cuts, all six rounds over par — is a distant reminiscence that comes with a easy clarification.
“I believe I am simply higher at golf now,” Homa mentioned.
Glover had an excellent stretch of his personal, hitting 6-iron from 209 yards to 4 toes on No. 3, the toughest gap of the second spherical on the Copperhead course. He adopted that with a chip 7-iron to a entrance pin simply over the bunker on the par-3 fourth, settling 4 toes away for one more birdie.
Glover is attempting to construct confidence. Not like Homa, he would not have a current victory to present him a spark. The final win for the previous U.S. Open champion was 10 years in the past at Quail Hole.
Nonetheless, there’s a rhythm to how he performs and the way he walks that’s beginning to look acquainted. Glover would not waste any time stepping over the ball and making contact — normally in the course of the clubface — nor does he get overly excited on a Friday.
Nevertheless it’s a step in the fitting course. His iron play has been common. His brief recreation has bailed him out. All he needs now’s to get his recreation a bit of extra tidy.
“Two extra rounds to go. Quite a bit can occur,” Glover mentioned. “However I am glad the best way I am enjoying, proud of the best way I am placing and simply need to have a shot.”
DIVOTS: Paul Casey, going for a 3rd straight win at Innisbrook, shot 71 and was 9 photographs behind. … Jimmy Walker was penalized two photographs for being late to the primary tee. He made the reduce on the quantity. … The reduce was 1-under 141, solely the third time at Innisbrook the reduce has been beneath par.