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May 16 2013

7:15 PM

Thursday observations

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

IRVING, Texas -- They like to do things large in Texas and you can’t get much bigger than carding a 60. 

Keegan Bradley caught the golf course at its most vulnerable place and took advantage. Two inches of rain pelted TPC Four Seasons overnight, necessitating preferred lies. With ball in hand, Bradley was able to hit 15 of 18 greens and took 24 putts.  The longest putt he made was 17 feet and he hit it an average distance of 18 feet from the cup.  Bradley played his last three holes in 4 under.  He had a huge smile on his face while leaving the scoring tent saying, “I’m so excited.  It just seemed so easy.” 

The 10-under total gave him the first-round lead at the HP Byron Nelson Championship and also ties Bradley for low round of the year with his friend, Phil Mickelson. Bradley said he hasn’t beaten Mickelson in any Tuesday practice round this year but that opening-round 60 will take away some of Mickelson’s bragging rights.

Observations

Conditions: PGA TOUR Officials arrived at TPC Four Seasons early in the morning and were afraid play would be delayed.  More than 2 inches of water hit the course during a violent storm and several bunkers were damaged.  Maintenance crews did a tremendous job getting the course playable for a 7 a.m. start.  Tornados hit cities just 30 miles from the course and no PGA TOUR player was going to complain about the condition of any bunker.

Greens in regulation: Charl Schwartzel leads the tournament in greens in regulation, hitting 18 of 18.  He might also lead the tournament in discipline.  Schwartzel hit every green and yet he intentionally played away from some holes he called “sucker” pins.  There were six holes cut four paces from the edge of greens and the South African showed the discipline not to challenge those locations.  It is very difficult not to be greedy when you are playing well and it’s a lesson Schwartzel applied while shooting a 7-under 63.

Insects that bite:  Justin Leonard is from Texas, so he knows all about fire ants.  That experience did not stop him from being attacked in the opening round.  He accidentally stood on an ant pile and the large red insects attacked his leg, painfully biting him several times.  It was severe enough to call officials for help, who gave Leonard ibuprofen tablets that allowed him to continue playing.

Scouting: There is a reason Steve “Pepsi” Hale is considered such a good caddie.  He is prepared.  During a delay in play at the fifth hole, Hale walked over to the ninth green to get a better idea where the hole was located.  His player, Bradley, knew it was nine paces on and five off the right-hand side, but “Pepsi” was able to pinpoint the exact location in the yardage book.  That advance scouting paid off when Bradley hit his approach to within 3 feet and sank the putt to close out a 10 under 60.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio.  For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here

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