By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Keegan Bradley had a few minutes before he teed off on Thursday afternoon so he joined the group huddled around the TV to see whether his good buddy and Ryder Cup partner Phil Mickelson could pull off that historic 59.
"(When) the putt lipped out, and you could just hear the whole place groan because they all wanted it to go in," Bradley said. "I saw him last night and gave him a high five. He was laughing about it. There wasn't much he could do. He hit a perfect putt.
"I just hope that my partner can ease up on me a little this afternoon and not go too low for the weekend."
Bradley is sure to be in the mix -- if not in Saturday's final group, possibly with Mickelson, to boot -- after he shot a 63 Friday morning that tied his career low on TOUR and moved him to 12 under. He was one shot ahead of Mickelson, who played in the afternoon, when he finished his round although the four-time major champion had regained sole possession of the lead by the time he made the turn.
Bradley got off to a hot start Friday, making three birdies and an eagle in his first seven holes. The eagle came courtesy of a 351-yard drive and a 7-iron to 8 feet and Bradley followed with a 6-footer for birdie at the rocking 16th hole.
As he made the turn, though, Bradley acknowleged he got "tight." He proceeded to bogeyed No. 2 from the right fairway bunker but he shook that off with a string of four straight birdies starting at the fifth hole.
"It was such a relief to shoot a good number," Bradley said. "I've been playing so well this whole year and haven't played many putts, and today the putts started to go in. I really had a fun time, 15, 16 with the crowds, and it just was a really fun round today. ...
"And you know, anytime you shoot 63, you put yourself back in the tournament."
Bradley, who won three times in his first two years on the PGA TOUR, including the 2011 PGA Championship, is smart enough to realize when he gets ahead of himself like he did as he headed to the front nine Friday. But a solid 3-wood down the fifth fairway that helped set up a 12-foot birdie putt turned the tide.
"I started to think about where I stood and what I needed to do, and I kept thinking to myself, finally you're shooting a good number, and I got really tight and started to miss a few fairways, and I start to really worry about my result, which is something I work on with Dr. Bob Rotella," Bradley explained
"Then I hit a really, really good drive on the fifth hole, and then it just kind of lifted from there. ... I just relaxed a little bit. I want to get myself into contention so bad sometimes that it can work against me, and that's when I kind of have to relax and take a deep breath."