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Bradley Fires 60 at Byron Nelson
Keegan Bradley established a new course record en route to forging a three-stroke lead in the opening round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship. The $6.7 million PGA Tour event started Thursday at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas.
Playing in the same group as defending champion Jason Dufner and Matt Kuchar and starting on the 10th tee, Bradley carded five birdies in his first seven holes on his way to making the turn in 5-under 31. On his back nine, the 27-year-old from Vermont added five more birdies, an eagle on the par-5 seventh (his 16th hole) and another bogey to come home with a 6-under 29.
The 2011 PGA champion broke the previous TPC Four Season's course record of 61 shared by Cameron Beckman, Justin Leonard and Charlie Rymer, and tied the all-time Nelson mark set by Arron Oberholser in 2006 on the Cottonwood Valley course and Sam Snead in 1957 at Glen Lakes Country Club.
Bradley needed only 24 putts and, for the most part, was spot-on with the rest of his clubs. "It was rare to match up a ball-striking day and make everything (putting-wise)," he said. "The hole looked huge. Even the putts I missed almost went in, and that's when you know you're putting really well."
Bradley noted he had a relaxing time with his playing partners. "Just a really fun round," he said. "Kind of felt like a Saturday morning round with my buddies."
He was also pleased that the best score of his career came at such a historic tournament. "Shooting a course record is pretty unbelievable at an event like this, considering the history and the players that have won and the players that have played here before me," he added.
Because storms dumped 1.5 inches of rain overnight, the players in the 144-man field got to play lift, clean and place, which is always a recipe for low scoring among golf's best players. Adding to the equation were softened greens, which allowed the players to throw darts on their approaches.
Three strokes back after a seven-birdie outing is another major champion, 2011 Masters winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, while carding 64s were Ted Potter, Jr., Harris English and Sweden's Robert Karlsson. Ryan Palmer, Camilo Villegas of Colombia and two-time major champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina are five behind the leader.
"You couldn't ask for much better (conditions)," Schwartzel said. "Seems like you don't get many of those opportunities - so being out here first was a bit of an advantage."
Considering the prime scoring conditions, Dufner got off to a so-so start, shooting an even-par 70. Kuchar, the winner of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, opened with a 69.
Five players shots 66s. The group includes Will Claxton, South Korea's Sang-Moon Bae, Scott Piercy, Sean O'Hair and Australia's Marc Leishman.
For all the scores, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html.