RBC Canadian Open 2019: Keegan Bradley Leads at 7-Under After Round 1

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 6, 2019

HAMILTON, ONTARIO - JUNE 06: Keegan Bradley of the United States plays his shot from the 14th tee during the first round of the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club on June 06, 2019 in Hamilton, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Keegan Bradley got off to a strong start at the RBC Canadian Open in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, shooting a seven-under 63 during the opening round of the tournament.

That gave him a one-stroke lead over Shane Lowry, Sungjae Im, Nick Taylor and Erik van Rooyen.

Bradley was excellent on Thursday, finishing with seven birdies and no bogeys. He averaged 299 yards on his drives, had an 85.7 percent driving accuracy, hit 94.4 percent of his greens in regulation and gained 2.3 strokes putting, per PGATour.com.

While he started a bit slowly, with six straight pars to open the tournament—and a few opportunities for birdies left wanting—he was absolutely on fire between Nos. 7 and 13, with six birdies in that span.

While his striking game was on point, the key to Bradley's big round was his putting.

"I hit almost every fairway, almost every green, and then holed some putts," he said, per Will Gray of GolfChannel.com. "With me, it's all about the putter. When that thing gets going, I can do stuff like I did today."

"When they're combined it's pretty rare. I've had good ball-striking days, and then maybe you don't putt as well and shoot a couple under," he added. "Today they matched up. Just got to go for it when that happens."

The story on Thursday was Bradley, but plenty of players are within striking distance, including big names like Matt Kuchar (-5) and Rory McIlroy (-3).

RBC Canadian Open @RBCCanadianOpen

🗣 KUUUUUUCCCHHHH Make that 5 birdies on the day at the #RBCCO https://t.co/qqjdDx2vR9

PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka struggled, however, finishing even on the day. Dustin Johnson (+1) and Bubba Watson (+1) didn't fare any better.

More than a few players provided highlights, though, like Mackenzie Holmes coming oh so close to an ace:


This close to an ace. 😮 @MacHughesGolf is dialed in and pleasing the crowd. He's one back. 🇨🇦 #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/yz61FDFpna

Justin Thomas had his own close call:


🎯 @JustinThomas34 puts it within TWO FEET at the par-3 8th. 🐦 #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/HPGvF7oliI

And while Watson struggled throughout, his approach and subsequent eagle made for one of the highlights of the day: 


The strength of @BubbaWatson leads to an 🦅 @RBCCanadianOpen. 💪 #MustSeeMoments: https://t.co/EnqKxpTOns https://t.co/oj8uPVkbU6

But if Bradley keeps playing like he did on Thursday, it won't matter how the rest of the field performs. Bradley was red hot on Thursday, and if he can continue putting at that level, he'll be hard to catch.