Low rounds were few and far between last season for Keegan Bradley, but the former major winner is already making strides to reverse that trend in the new campaign.
Bradley closed with a 66 last week in Napa, flew halfway around the world and promptly opened the CIMB Classic with an 8-under 64. The round gave him a share of the lead in Malaysia alongside Derek Fathauer and defending champ Justin Thomas, and it marked Bradley's lowest round on Tour since a 64 in the final round of the 2015 Greenbrier Classic.
Bradley reeled off six birdies in a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 2-8, then shot an inward nine of 2-under 34 that was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 10th hole.
Seen as a rising star after his playoff victory at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2011, Bradley is now 30 and in the final season of a multi-year exemption that was extended by his win at the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. But that remains his most recent victory, as Bradley has struggled to transition away from the anchored belly putting stroke with which he earned each of his three PGA Tour wins.
Bradley was 183rd last season in strokes gained putting, a large reason why he finished the regular season 106th in FedEx Cup points and did not advance past The Barclays. He finished T-22 last week at the Safeway Open despite losing nearly a shot to the field on the greens, but holed more than his fair share of putts during Thursday's round in Kuala Lumpur.
The key for Bradley now is backing up his low opener. He has opened with 65 (2013) and 66 (2015) in his two prior appearances at this event, but in both instances he failed to break 70 over the weekend on the par-72 layout and subsequently faded from contention. This also marks Bradley's first share of the opening-round lead on Tour since the Valspar Championship in March, when he followed a 67 with an 8-over 79 to miss the cut.