Valspar Championship 2018: Corey Conners Leads After Round 1; Tiger Woods in 8th

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2018

PALM HARBOR, FL - MARCH 08:  Corey Conners of Canada plays his shot from the 18th tee during the first round of the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort Copperhead Course on March 8, 2018 in Palm Harbor, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Corey Conners is alone atop the leaderboard after one round of the 2018 Valspar Championship at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Conners shot a four-under 67 on Thursday to claim a one-shot lead over Whee Kim, Kelly Kraft and Nick Watney.

GolfChannel.com's Rex Hoggard tweeted how it's been a whirlwind week for Conners:

Conners would've had a slightly bigger lead if he hadn't bogeyed the final hole of the round. His second-shot approach found a bunker, and his next shot overshot the cup and landed in the rough to the left of the green. The damage would've been even worse if he hadn't dropped his ensuing chip within two feet of the hole to earn a bogey.

That was otherwise the only blemish on Conners' scorecard. The 26-year-old was especially good on the front nine, as he was at four under before even making the turn.

Not only has Conners never won a PGA Tour event, but he has also failed to even register a top-25 finish in 18 tries. Combine that with how many golfers are only a stroke or two back, and Conners' grip on first place may not be that firm.

Kim and Kraft both needed a birdie on their final holes to earn a share of second place, while Watney moved to three under with an eagle on No. 1 and remained there over the next eight holes before heading for the clubhouse.

Watney also delivered one of best shots of the opening round when he holed out from a bunker on No. 16 for a birdie, courtesy of the PGA Tour:

Tiger Woods made the trip to Palm Harbor to compete in his fifth tournament of the 2018 PGA Tour season. He most recently finished 12th at the Honda Classic.

Woods is within striking distance of Conners after the first round of the Valspar Championship. He shot one under and sits in a tie for eighth place.

The 14-time major champion got his tournament off to a strong start. He was within inches of an eagle on the first hole after chipping out from the rough. He sunk his subsequent putt to earn a birdie. The PGA Tour shared a replay of Woods' chip:

Woods fared better than a few other of golf's top stars. Rory McIlory is tied for 87th at three over, while Jordan Spieth is in a tie for 122nd at five over.

Spieth is in serious danger of missing the cut, which would be his second missed cut of the season. For McIlory, a poor showing at Innisbrook would continue what has been a slow start to the year. He missed the cut at the Pebble Peach Pro-Am and tied for 59th at the Honda Classic.

Another underwhelming result is exactly what McIlroy doesn't need with the 2018 Masters less than a month away.

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