Bradley, Steele team up for share of lead in Naples
Friday, December 9, 2011
NAPLES, Fla. — Champions Tour duo Mark Calcavecchia and Nick Price tied with the pairing of PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele at 9-under 63 to lead the Franklin Templeton Shootout on Friday.
Price made a hole-in-one on No. 12 and a 30-footer for birdie on the last hole in the modified alternate-shot format.
“What can you say when you make a hole-in-one?” Price said. “We go from 4 to 6 under, and now we’re really looking at shooting a decent score today or a low score. It just got better and better.”
The 2009 champions, Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker, are one back, and Rickie Fowler and Camilo Villegas are two behind. The 12 two-man teams will play better ball on Saturday and scramble on Sunday in the $3 million event’s 23rd edition.
Price’s ace was his first in competition since the 1997 NEC World Series of Golf and the second hole-in-one in tournament history. Tim Clark made the other, on No. 12 in the final round last year.
Price and Calcavecchia would be the first Champions Tour pairing to win the tournament, though Calcavecchia won with Woody Austin in 2007 and Steve Elkington in 1995.
Bradley, 25, and Steele, 28, were just 1 under on the front nine, but played the final six holes at 7 under. A 30-foot putt for bogey from off the green on No. 9 got them going.
“It was a big putt,” Bradley said. “And the thing that was unbelievable was my putt was going to go by 6 or 7 feet. It was cooking. So next thing you know, it turns into a double - 6 or 7, who knows? But that’s the beautiful part: It went in.”
“Looking at a 6-to-7-footer for double in this format, that might have been the end of our tournament,” Steele said. “We felt as good as we could feel, walking off that green with a bogey.”
It showed the rest of the way. Steele made a 12-footer on No. 11, Bradley hit a 15-footer on No. 13, Steele holed out for eagle from a greenside bunker on No. 14, Bradley made a 10-footer on No. 15, and Steele made a 40-footer from off the green on No. 16. Steele was near the lip of the bunker on No. 17 and got it out well enough for Bradley to make a birdie.
On No. 18, Bradley hit his drive 367 yards, leaving Steele with just 91 to the green. He hit it to 6 feet, and Bradley made the putt.
Kelly and Stricker eagled No. 17 and birdied No. 18. On No. 17, a par-5, Stricker got his second shot on the green, and Kelly sank one from 40 feet or so.
“He had been talking about getting the big bird all the way up there,” Stricker said. “As soon as it left the putter, he said, ‘Get in.’ The power of your brain sometimes leads to good things. We had been talking about making a 3 there a couple holes prior. It was a good way to finish the round.”