PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Keegan Bradley cannot recall having a better time than he did Thursday at Innisbrook. He missed just one inexperienced. His longest par putt was simply over 4 toes. It added to a 7-under 64 and one other nice begin within the Valspar Championship.
It is the second spherical that not too long ago has given Bradley matches on the Copperhead course.
Bradley ran off 4 birdies over his final 5 holes, ending with a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th and a two-shot lead on a day of low scoring not usually seen at this PGA Tour cease.
“Principally zero stress the entire day,” Bradley stated. “I do know that I’ll have some bogeys and a few stress coming. However as for at the moment, I performed so good and it feels good to go round a course like this and shoot that rating.”
It wasn’t a breeze for everybody. Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 participant on the earth, did not make a birdie over his remaining 12 holes and needed to accept a 71. Johnson hasn’t completed within the high 10 in simply over two months and first has to fret about making the reduce.
Justin Thomas celebrated his twenty eighth birthday by opening with an eagle and coming inches away from a hole-in-one, however he stalled on the again 9 and shot 69.
Phil Mickelson, enjoying at Innisbrook for the primary time since 2004, shot 73.
As for Bradley, that is the fifth straight time he has began the Valspar Championship in a tie for sixth or higher. He has missed the reduce twice — together with in 2016, when he shared the 18-hole lead — and has cracked the highest 30.
This may very well be a unique yr given the change in date. The match has been a part of the Florida swing in March since 2007. Due to a change within the calendar, it was moved to the final week in April this yr.
With hotter climate — temperatures have been pushing 90 — the course is getting extra water than regular. Mixed with just a little extra humidity, situations have been just a little softer.
Bradley had his sport dialed in from the beginning, and particularly on the end. He made birdie the one time he missed a inexperienced, simply quick on the par-3 fifteenth. He had the 4-foot par putt and one other one from simply over 3 toes. The opposite 9 par putts have been 20 inches or shorter.
“I did not actually come shut to creating a bogey, in order that was a extremely enjoyable day to be on the market and enjoying,” Bradley stated.
In a season of gamers ending lengthy stretches with out successful, maybe Moore is in line to affix the checklist. The final of his 5 PGA Tour wins was in 2016, the yr he performed within the Ryder Cup. He missed the final 4 months of 2020 with a again damage, and it has been gradual coming again.
And his again was feeling just a little tight the previous few days. The nice and cozy climate helped, and so did a conservative strategy.
“I could not try to do an excessive amount of. I could not try to overwork pictures and stuff like that,” he stated. “I simply needed to play it fairly impartial and simply sort of hit extra three-quarter pictures all the way in which round, and that apparently labored. Perhaps I ought to do this extra typically.”
Paul Casey, making an attempt to develop into solely the fourth participant within the final 40 years to win the identical match three straight instances (Tiger Woods did it on six events), overcame a tough begin with a 68. He additionally got here inches away from an ace on the fourth gap, with one fan leaping out of his chair prematurely. It caught the lip. He made a 2.
“A 3-peat has been talked about so much and will probably be talked about till I am completed right here, and I simply need to sort of dangle round, which is what I did at the moment,” Casey stated. “I actually cannot win it at the moment, however I need to dangle round.”
The most effective begin — it felt like that, anyway — belonged to Michael Visacki, who obtained loads of fame at the beginning of the week together with his 20-foot putt to win a playoff in a Monday qualifier and earn his first begin in a PGA Tour occasion. He was sobbing when he shared the information together with his father. He was smiling when he bought up-and-down for birdie on the par-5 first gap.
Highlights have been uncommon — he additionally made a birdie on the par-3 thirteenth — and he opened with a 74.