SAN ANTONIO — Aaron Baddeley was frustrated. After getting to 3-under with a birdie on the 15th hole, Baddeley arrived at the drivable par-4 17th with the chance to grab a share of the lead and end the round on a good note. In between clubs on the tee, Baddeley opted to hit a cut driver instead of going all out with a fairway wood and watched as the ball disappeared into the woods.
"I was thinking of gripping a 3-wood or hit a cut driver, and I don't know, I went with the cut driver and hit a pulled draw in the middle of the trees," Baddeley said.
After surveying the situation, Baddeley took an unplayable lie and went back to the tee. The second time around, he choked down on the club, hit a "straight ball" and started walking. It wasn't until he heard the roar of the crowd that he realized something had happened.
Baddeley had just holed his third shot from 336 yards for birdie.
"I just thought I'd just hit it straight and so I hit it and started walking and then heard the crowd going nuts," Baddeley said. "I was like, wait, I just made birdie.
"I played really nice for the majority of the day. I just said to myself it was the wrong shot. Hit a straight one. It was straight downwind, get it going straight, it will go straight. So I hit the second one and said, man, why didn't I do that the first time? And it rolls up and goes in."
The improbable birdie, along with a hole-out from just off the green on the 18th hole, allowed Baddeley to get in the clubhouse at 4-under 68, just one-shot back of Charley Hoffman.
While the hole-out was a big surprise, seeing an Aussie near the top of another Valero Texas Open leaderboard seemed commonplace. Aussies have had a lot of success at Texas events in the last few years. Last season, players from Down Under won three of four events during the Texas Swing, including the Valero Texas Open, where Steven Bowditch shot 4-over 76 on a blustery Sunday to win by a shot.
With the exception of the back-nine fireworks on the last two holes, the rest of Baddeley's round was fairly routine, as he recorded five birdies and just one bogey.
On a day where the morning wave battled wind gusts that reached 38 miles per hour, Baddeley had the good fortune of going out in the afternoon when the scoring conditions were considerably better.
"I saw the forecast, it was going to die down just a little bit," Baddeley said. "I knew it was going to be blowing. So even going to bed last night I already had the mindset. I just had to be patient, whether you got off to a good start or a bad start. So I think days like today the mindset is the most important."
STATS REPORT: Click here to see what made Baddeley's birdie historic
Phil Mickelson’s equipment snafu at Valero Texas Open
MICKELSON FINISHES STRONG: Phil Mickelson birdied three of his final five holes to close with a 2-under 68, but all everyone wanted to talk about after his round was what transpired on the par-4 12th hole.
While hitting a shot from the fairway bunker, the head on Mickelson's Callaway X-Forged '13 8-iron flew off, leaving him with just the KBS Tour-V 125X shaft in his hands.
"Yeah, it was weird, the shaft broke just above the hosel," Mickelson said. "It was just a weird thing. It happens. It's part of the game, I guess. You hit enough shots it's going to work out.
"I'm just curious at what point on the downswing it came off, if it was right before impact or right at impact, because the shot didn't come off very well."
While Mickelson played the rest of his round with 13 clubs, he noted that the 8-iron he lost would've come in handy over his final few holes.
"I would have used it the next three holes," Mickelson said. "I had to feather a 7-iron all three times."
Mickelson won't have to worry about playing his second round without an 8-iron. Callaway confirmed a replacement was en route and would be here before Mickelson's tee time on Friday.
KUCHAR HANDLES MORNING WINDS: Sometimes a round can be summed up in just a few words. That was the case on Thursday for Matt Kuchar following his opening round at the Valero Texas Open that saw him shoot even-par 72 to grab an early share of the clubhouse lead.
"I'm glad to be done," Kuchar said.
The 7-time PGA TOUR winner wasn't the only player who was happy to see his first round come to a close. Kuchar and the rest of the morning wave arrived to find a wind advisory at TPC San Antonio with sustained 20-30 mph gusts.
Kuchar was one of the few players to find red figured during the day, getting it to 2-under par on two different occasions during the round before closing with two bogeys over his final four holes.
"It was really challenging, really difficult," Kuchar said. "I'm going to kind of enjoy sitting back and watching some guys try to manage today's afternoon forecast and the wind and the conditions. It was really hard."
Despite the trying conditions, he still managed to find a way around the course and post a round that was more than seven strokes better than the morning wave scoring average (79.2).
Kuchar, who only needed 24 putts during his round, said the key to his round was staying in control of his game and having a couple breaks go his way on some difficult greens.
"You can't shoot a decent number in these conditions without being in pretty good control of what's going on," Kuchar said. "That said, I also had some things go my way.
"Getting under par, just making birdies, it may not be two shots, but it's nearly a shot and a half you're gaining on the field when you make a birdie. You're really hoping to get by with pars on every hole."
FIVE PLAYERS WITHDRAW: With the Masters two weeks away, Graeme McDowell wants to make sure he's completely healthy for the year's first major. The 2010 U.S. Open winner withdrew from the Valero Texas Open after just nines holes with a nagging left ankle injury that had been bothering him for the last few weeks.
McDowell was 5-over through nine holes at TPC San Antonio when he decided to withdraw from the tournament.
McDowell was one of a few high-profile names to walk off the course with an injury on Thursday. Two-time PGA TOUR winner Sang-Moon Bae (back) and Colt Knost (wrist) also pulled out mid-round with injuries.
Mike Weir (wrist) and Alex Cejka (back) withdrew prior to the start of the first round.
The week here at @valerotxopen had everything I wanted. Great people and great course. Disappointed this has happened. Thanks to everyone.— Graeme McDowell (@Graeme_McDowell) March 26, 2015
SHOT OF THE DAY
Shot of the Day
Ryan Palmer’s super drive is the Shot of the Day
CALL OF THE DAY
Dennis Paulson calls Ryan Palmer's eagle at No. 17 in the opening round of the Valero Texas Open. Free play-by-play coverage of the second round streams from 12-6 p.m. ET Friday on PGATOUR.COM.
ODDS & ENDS
Charley Hoffman had the only bogey-free round (67) Thursday at TPC San Antonio. This was Hoffman's first bogey-free round since he shot 64 at PGA West in Round 4 of the Human Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation where he finished T2. ...
Since 2010, Australians have combined for five wins on the PGA TOUR in Texas; Adam Scott (2010 Valero Texas Open, 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial), Jason Day (2010 AT&T Byron Nelson Championship), Steven Bowditch (2014 Valero Texas Open) and Matt Jones (2014 Shell Houston Open). ...
The Valero Texas Open is one of the final opportunities for players not exempt for the Masters to play their way into the year’s first major championship. The winner of the Valero Texas Open, if not already exempt, will punch his ticket to Augusta. Additionally, the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking through the Valero Texas Open are exempt, as well.
BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Golf was hard enough today. I didn't need this to happen on 11. Hit it hard, and it didn't even get to the fairway!! pic.twitter.com/Jm4pPwmjKh— Troy Merritt (@TROYMERRITT_PGA) March 27, 2015
The whole "Tom Cruise clinging" meme seems pretty appropriate for today... pic.twitter.com/pWhKd59ZeB— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 26, 2015
To give you an idea of how windy it was this AM- 9 iron from 109 3 wood from 215 8 iron carried 90 yards on 15 3 wood went 309 on 2— John Peterson (@JohnPetersonLSU) March 26, 2015
I hit a 242 yard 7-iron today and a 216 yard driver. Enough said. Conditions are crazy. 💨💨💨💨💨💨— Steve Wheatcroft (@wheatiePGA) March 26, 2015
Click on the image below to check out the best photos from Thursday at TPC San Antonio.