5 Things: Bradley (60) tears it up at Nelson, leads by three
Keegan Bradley fired a 10-under 60 -- coming within feet of a 59 -- and took a three-shot lead over Charl Schwartzel after the first round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Thursday.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas:
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1. OH, SO CLOSE: Three feet. That's how close Keegan Bradley came to a 59 on Thursday at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
And that three feet came from the fairway – a 136-yard wedge shot to be exact.
"It was going right at it. (A 59) crossed my mind for a second, and, 'It would be unbelievable if I buried this,' " Bradley said. "But I had 3 feet to shoot 60. I was actually very nervous, uncomfortable over it and thank God I made it."
Bradley would end his round eagle-birdie-birdie to fire a 10-under 60 – shattering his Tour-best round by three shots – equaling the best round on Tour this season (Phil Mickelson shot 60 in Phoenix) and setting the course record at TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas.
The 2011 champ at the Byron Nelson, Bradley had 10 birdies, an eagle and back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 18 and 1 (he started on the back nine).
"It was rare to match up a ball-striking day and make everything. . . . It happened today," Bradley said. "The hole looked huge. Even the putts I missed almost went in."
Bradley had not shot better than 66 (Sony Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational) this season. Bradley's last victory came at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August 2012.
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2. OVERSHADOWED: It's not often that a 7-under 65 will leave you climbing uphill, but Charl Schwartzel's round Thursday was an afterthought after Bradley's incredible finish.
Schwartzel was bogey-free Thursday, picking up seven birdies after hitting all 18 greens in regulation.
"Seems like you don't get many of those opportunities, so being out here first was a bit of an advantage," said Schwartzel. "So much rain, it softened up. Played long off the tee, but it's a big advantage going into the greens with the second shot. . . . You could attack flags."
Schwartzel is enjoying a solid season in the U.S., making all seven cuts, finishing in the top 10 twice and the top 25 five times. The 65 Thursday tied his best round of the year, matching a second-round 65 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
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3. EVEN KEEL: Tianlang Guan continues to play beyond his years, picking up an even-par 72 on Thursday to stay within striking distance of making his third consecutive cut on the PGA Tour – at the age of 14.
Guan was steady Thursday, picking up two bogeys and two birdies to stand T-77 – likely needing to go under par Friday to stick around for the weekend.
Despite making the cut at the Masters and Zurich Classic, this was only Guan's third round at par or better, with his best round a 3-under 69 Friday in New Orleans.
"I missed a couple of birdie putts in the middle but overall not a bad round," Guan said. "After the Masters and New Orleans, I still feel nervous on the first tee but not too much, and I handled it pretty good in the middle fairway and kept it going."
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4. PALMER ATTENDS FUNERAL: Ryan Palmer opened with a 5-under 65 despite recent tragedy in his life. Just two days earlier, the resident of nearby Colleyville had to attend the funeral of a childhood friend who had died in a car accident while he was at the Players Championship.
"We will always remember him and maybe we can honor him even more on Sunday afternoon," Palmer told the Associated Press. As Palmer played to a T-5 finish Sunday at the Players, he had worn a white cap Sunday bearing Clay Aderholt's initials – a cap that he gave to Aderholt's widow and signed for the couple's 4-year-old son.
"Trying to get back in the swing of things," Palmer said. "Being at home is nice, my own bed, so that made it easier when I got back (from the funeral) Tuesday night."
Palmer, a three-time Tour winner, was runner-up to Bradley in a playoff at the 2011 Byron Nelson. He also shot 65 in the first round that year, and 64 in the first round last year, when he went on to finish T-9.
At the Byron Nelson, Palmer relies on caddie James Edmondson to simply hand him a club for each shot – without even talking about the yardage. It seems to be working.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Camilo Villegas walked to the 17th tee fresh off an eagle that took him to 8 under – the same scenario Bradley enjoyed through 16 holes before finishing with 60. Villegas' ending, however, was far different. His next shot landed in the water hazard, and he went on to double-bogey the hole. On the 18th, he hit it in the water again – and rallied for a bogey, settling for a 65. . . . 2010 champ Jason Day also showed promise early in his round, at 3 under through seven holes. Not only did birdies elude him the rest of the way, Day double-bogeyed the 8th, then bogeyed the 14th, 15th and 17th to finish 2 over in a round that saw 97 competitors shoot par or better. . . . Like Schwartzel, Ted Potter Jr. was bogey-free for the day, shooting a 64 that tied him for third alongside Harris English and Robert Karlsson, each of whom had one bogey. None of the three carded an eagle. . . . Judging by the top of the leaderboard, the morning groups might have enjoyed a distinct advantage – eight golfers bettered Marc Leishman's afternoon-best 66, and another four matched it. We'll find out tomorrow, perhaps. . . . Palmer's tragedy was not the only one in mind during Thursday's first round, as Weather.com reported the death toll rose to 13 as a result of several tornadoes that struck to the west and south of Irving on Wednesday.