Having notched his first career PGA Tour win at TPC Four Seasons two years ago, Keegan Bradley likely has a stockpile of positive memories upon which to draw while playing the Dallas layout. In Thursday's opening round of the HP Byron Nelson Championship, the former PGA champion created several more.
Among the first players out in the morning wave with lift, clean and place conditions in effect, Bradley played his final three holes of the day in 4 under, grabbing the lead with a 10-under 60 that broke the course record in the process. The previous record, 61, was set by Billy Mayfair in 1993 and matched by current Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer in 1996, Justin Leonard in 2001 and Cameron Beckman in 2010.
"I was able to matchup unbelievable ball-striking with great putting," Bradley said after the round. "I drove the ball great so I had the ball in my hand pretty much all day long."
Improbably, Bradley carded the ultra-low score despite a pair of bogeys. Beginning on the back nine, he notched five birdies in a six-hole stretch from Nos. 11-16, turning in 4-under 31. After bogeys at Nos. 18 and 1 dropped the three-time PGA Tour winner to 3 under, Bradley went on a tear. Birdies on holes 2, 3 and 5 were followed by an approach to the par-5 seventh hole that left less than 11 feet for eagle, a putt that moved him to 8 under.
Bradley then birdied the par-4 eighth hole, his 17th of the day, despite driving into a fairway bunker. Needing a par to tie the course record, he ended in style, landing his approach from 137 yards just 3 feet from the pin. The closing birdie, his 10th of the day, broke the course record and gave Bradley a three-shot lead over Charl Schwartzel when his round ended.
"First and foremost I want to win the tournament," he added. "This puts me in great position to do so."
At day's end, Bradley's stats at TPC Four Seasons were remarkable: one eagle, 10 birdies, two bogeys, 24 putts, 15 of 18 greens hit in regulation and a front-nine 29, his second nine of the day, that tied the low nine-hole mark this year on the PGA Tour.