PALM HARBOR, Florida – Keegan Bradley has his good luck charm with him this week at the Valspar Championship and it sparked him to a bogey-free opening-round 7-under 64 and the early lead on Thursday.
“Best round of the year,” Bradley said. “Today was an all-around just great day. Basically zero stress the whole day. I didn’t really come close to making a bogey, so that was a really fun day to be out there and pl
Bradley made a birdie at the first hole, tacked on another at the fourth hole and then heated up on the back nine. Bradley added a birdie at No. 12 and closed with birdies on four of his final five holes.
“It feels good to go around a course like this and shoot that score,” Bradley said. “This is a tough track, demands a lot, ball striking-wise and I did that today.”
Bradley, who is nearing the 10th anniversary of his first victory at the 2011 PGA Championship, is coming off a tie for fourth last week in New Orleans, his second top-5 finish in 17 starts this season. He credited his continued fine form to a hot putter, which has been behaving now for the better part of two months.
“After I won (the 2018 BMW Championship) putting went into a pretty big dip and I had to kind of work my way out of it again. So I feel like I’m on the other side of that right now,” Bradley said. “As long as I putt strokes gained around zero, I’m going to be up there. So when I have a day where I’m positive or a week that I’m positive I got a good chance.”
Bradley gained nearly 2 strokes on the field with his putter on Thursday. He drained putts of 34 feet at No. 14, made a 29-footer from off the green at No. 15 and finished in style with a 21-foot birdie at the last.
“My son Logan said he yelled when I made it, which made me feel really good,” Bradley said.
Bradley, 34, called his family his “good luck charm,” and noted that wife Jill and Logan were in attendance the last time he won in 2018, but that COVID-19 concerns (and the birth of a second son three months ago) have limited their ability to join him on the road.
“Any tournament we drive to, they will come, but it’s just, it’s so great to have them out here and be around them,” said Bradley, who calls Florida home. “I’ll go back today and, doesn’t matter what I shoot, I got to go be a dad and play baseball and play golf in the backyard, which I look forward to.”