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Valspar Championship 2021: Keegan Bradley Leads After Opening-Round 64

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2021

Keegan Bradley drives his ball off the second tee during final round of the RSM Classic golf tournament, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in St. Simons Island, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

Keegan Bradley leads a loaded field at the Valspar Championship after shooting 64 in the first round.

The American jumped out to a fast start in the early session Thursday thanks to seven birdies and zero bogeys, enough to build a two-stroke lead over five competitors in second place.

The tournament at the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida, features the top two players in the world, Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas, plus major winners like Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson.

It means we could see a lot of movement over the next three rounds, but whoever wins will certainly be deserving of their share of the $6.9 million purse.

       

Round 1 Leaderboard

1. Keegan Bradley (-7)

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T2. Emiliano Grillo (-5)

T2. Ryan Moore (-5)

T2. Hank Lebioda (-5)

T2. Max Homa (-5)

T2. Patton Kizzire (-5)

T7. Abraham Ancer (-4)

T7. Jason Kokrak (-4)

T7. Sam Burns (-4)

T7. Scott Stallings (-4)

T7. Scott Brown (-4)

T7. Ted Potter Jr. (-4)

T7. Kramer Hickok (-4)

Full standings and stats available at PGATour.com.

      

The first round couldn't have gone much better for Bradley, who excelled in all facets of the game on the Copperhead course.

The former Massachusetts state golf champion reached the green in regulation on 17 of his 18 holes and gained 1.798 strokes with his putting. It led to a bogey-free round while matching his best score of the season.

Of course, early success hasn't necessarily led to much at this tournament for Bradley:

The 34-year-old will hope to find more consistency through the weekend.

There will be plenty of competition as well, including from Patton Kizzire. The 35-year-old torched the par-fives with four birdies in four opportunities, one of them coming after a 73-foot putt:

A bogey on No. 7 prevented Kizzire from sitting alone in second place, but his outstanding putting overall was enough to get him at five strokes under par through Round 1. 

Among the other competitors sitting at five under, Ryan Moore could be someone to watch thanks to his scrambling ability on display Thursday:

Max Homa shot 31 on the front nine and remains in contention despite hitting just 46.2 percent of fairways in the first round. If he improves his accuracy off the tee, he could be even better over the next three rounds.

Johnson and Thomas each had quality moments during the round as well:

It wasn't all sunshine for them, however, with the two superstars combining for six bogeys. Johnson finished the first round with a 71, while Thomas shot 69 Thursday to sit two strokes under par.

They will hope to climb the leaderboard Friday while staying ahead of what could be a low cut line after the second round.