After watching his Ryder Cup partner make a run at history on Thursday at The Waste Management Phoenix Open, Keegan Bradley went out early on Friday and posted the early lead by shooting an -8 under 63 on the TPC Scottsdale Golf Course. The -13 under par total gave the 2011 PGA Champion an early three shot lead on a day that if you weren’t making birdies, you were falling behind.
In the first round on Thursday, Bradley, who teed off on the front nine, had the same problem he has had all year. He couldn’t get his putts to drop. In the first eight holes, at least six of the putts came up an inch short, or like Phil Mickelson’s putt on the ninth, do a 360 around the cup and refuse to go down. All he had to show for his effort was even par.
He made his first birdie on the ninth hole, and made the turn at -1 under. He would manage three more birdies on the back side to post a 67 on the par 71 layout. The youngster from Woodstock, Vermont, who played his collegiate golf at, of all places, St. Johns was bogey free on the day.
Inspired by Mickelson’s 60, Bradley went out Friday morning and attempted to copy his buddy’s effort. He started as Mickelson had done on Thursday, on the back nine, and coaxed a birdie in at the 11th hole. He picked up an eagle 3 at the par five 15th hole, and made the turn at 63. Bradley admitted after the round, he got ahead of himself, when he bogeyed the second hole before righting the ship, and posting four straight birdies down the closing stretch.
Other than a decent showing in the season opener at Kapalua where Bradley finished tied for 4th place in windy conditions on the Plantation Course, he couldn’t make enough birdies at the Sony Open, and finished in a tie for 49th place. He missed the cut last week at Torrey Pines, shooting himself out of it on Friday with a 77.
The conditions at TPC Scottsdale have been pristine to say the least. There has been no wind to speak of, and with some rain on the golf course prior to the beginning of the tournament, has been yielding birdies on a regular basis as witnessed by the scores. Phil Mickelson retained the lead, shooting 65 on Friday, and had it not been for a total screw up on the 18th hole, had a chance at another 60, and the two round record.
Totally out of character, Lefty pulled out a 3-wood on the 18th tee, and put his drive in the water down the left side. After taking a drop, sucked his third shot back off of the green leaving a chip shot to make par. He made a double bogey six, but retains the tournament lead at -17 under par, and will take to the course on Saturday with Bill Haas who played well, and ended his day with a 64 which was good for second place. Bradley will play the third round with Brandt Snedeker, who also carded a 63.
The cut was made at -4 under par which claimed a lot of good golfers who played well, but just couldn’t make enough birdies to stick around for the weekend play. Among the casualties were Mickelson’s playing partners for the first two days, Rickie Fowler, and Jason Dufner. Fowler made quite a few birdies, but also made too many bogeys, including a double at the par 5 third hole.
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