PALM HARBOR, Fla. – The early leader at the Valspar Championship almost didn’t make the trip, and he’s got one of the world’s best players hot on his trail. Here are Fore Things you should know after the first day at Innisbrook:
1. Nudge in the right direction: Jim Herman wasn’t planning to play this week, but after a stellar performance at the Feb. 27 Seminole Pro-Member – plus some prodding from friend and former GE chairman Jack Welch – Herman reconsidered. It proved to be a wise move, as Herman equaled his career best with a 9-under 62 and leads by two shots.
2. Stomach bug be gone: Henrik Stenson is tied for second after a bogey-free 64. The effort comes one week after the Swede withdrew from the WGC-Mexico Championship because of a stomach bug. Stenson is in search of his third straight top-12 finish at Innisbrook and now boasts a 69.1 career stroke average on the Copperhead Course.
3. Short delay, no problem: An early-morning fog delay pushed back tee times by an hour and forced Russell Henley to begin his warm-up routine three different times. Henley had the morning’s first tee time for the first time in his PGA Tour career, but after an opening bogey he birdied six of his next seven holes en route to a 64.
4. Scientific turnaround: Bryson DeChambeau hasn’t made a cut since the Sony Open in January, but that streak may soon end. DeChambeau eagled his opening hole and stood at 4 under through 15 holes when play was halted because of darkness. The rookie is one of several players who will return to the course at 7:40 a.m. ET to complete the opening round.