Keegan Bradley shoots course-record
IRVING, Texas — Keegan Bradley had no thoughts about a course record, or the possibility of a 59, after consecutive bogeys in the middle of his opening round at the Byron Nelson Championship.
Until his 136-yard wedge shot on his final hole Thursday.
“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 shot 10-under 60, completed by that short birdie at the 428-yard ninth hole, to break the TPC Four Seasons course record and match the best round ever at the Nelson. He topped his career PGA Tour best by three strokes and equaled Phil Mickelson’s opening 60 at Phoenix as the best round on the tour this season.
After missing the fairways off the tees and making bogeys at No. 18 and then No. 1, the latter starting his back nine when he drove into a bunker and had a par putt lip out of the cup, Bradley was at 3 under. He made a 17-foot birdie putt at the 221-yard second hole, and was 7 under his final eight holes with an eagle-birdie-birdie finish.
“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.”
The 60, with 10 birdies and an eagle 3 at the 542-yard seventh, gave Bradley a three-stroke lead over 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
Robert Karlsson, Harris English and Ted Potter Jr. shot 64, and two-time major champion Angel Cabrera, Ryan Palmer and Camilo Villegas were at 65.
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur from China, shot 70 in his second tournament since making the cut at the Masters. The eighth-grader also made the cut in New Orleans three weeks ago.
Guan was among 97 players at par or better – 76 were under par – on the 7,166-yard course after 1½ inches of rain fell on the course Wednesday night from a storm system that spawned at least 13 tornadoes and killed at least six people in North Texas. There was no significant damage to the course, where players were able to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways.
“Seems like you don’t get many of those opportunities, so being out here first was a bit of an advantage,” said Schwartzel, who hit all 18 greens in regulation. “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.”
Arron Oberholser shot 60 in the second round of the 2006 Nelson on the Cottonwood Valley course across the street that used to be used the first two rounds. Sam Snead shot 60 in the 1957 tournament at Glen Lakes Country Club, which at the time tied the PGA Tour record..
Poulter, Colsaerts lose at World Match Play
KAVARNA, Bulgaria — Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts were unexpected losers Thursday on the first day of the World Match Play Championship.
Poulter was handed a 3 and 2 defeat by Thongchai Jaidee on the Gary Player-designed Thracian Cliffs course in the first major tournament held in Bulgaria.
“I got off to a good start with birdies on the first three holes and it was then a combination of a couple of mistakes and handing Thongchai too many holes,” Poulter said.
Poulter will face unseeded Thomas Aitken in his final round robin encounter and will be hoping Jaidee loses to Aitken in the afternoon to advance to the last 16.
Colsaerts, the defending champion, was never in front against Branden Grace, with the South African winning 4 and 3.
“I missed a couple of putts that had I holed would have made my day a lot easier and bring myself into the match,” Colsaerts said. “So when you miss those putts the gap between Branden and myself just got bigger and bigger.”
Graeme McDowell – the highest ranked player in the field at No. 8 – defeated Chris Wood 5 and 3.
McDowell, who lost to Colsaerts in last year’s final, was 3 up after eight holes and closed by winning the 13th, 14th and 15th holes.
“I played solidly and it was important to get off to a nice start but then for the guys that lost today, it’s not the end of the world,” said McDowell. “They can still go out and try to win tomorrow.”
McDowell will play Stephen Gallacher on Friday afternoon while Wood will face Gallacher in the morning.
Also, Carl Pettersson was the first winner of the day when he beat Thorbjorn Olesen 4 and 3, and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano beat Jamie Donaldson 1 up.
Thompson, Ji lead LPGA Classic
MOBILE, Ala. — Lexi Thompson birdied four of her last five holes for a 7-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead Thursday with Eun-Hee Ji in the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
The 18-year-old Thompson, second last year behind Stacy Lewis, had eight birdies and a bogey on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove complex.
Ji had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine in her bogey-free round.
Jessica Korda was a stroke back, and Nicole Castrale, Mina Harigae, Dewi Claire Schreefel, Thidapa Suwanapura, Hee Young Park, Jennifer Johnson and Chella Choi shot 67.
Lewis opened with a 70.