By Stephen Hawkins
The Associated Press
IRVING, Texas — Keegan Bradley had no thoughts of a course record, or the possibility of a 59, after consecutive bogeys in the middle of his opening round at the Byron Nelson Championship.
Until his 136-yard wedge shot on his final hole Thursday.
“It was going right at it. (A 59) crossed my mind for a second, and it would be unbelievable if I buried this,” Bradley said. “But I had 3 feet to shoot 60. I was actually very nervous, uncomfortable over it and thank God I made it.”
Bradley shot 10-under 60, completed by that short birdie at the 428-yard ninth hole, to break the TPC Four Seasons course record and match the best round ever at the Nelson. He topped his career PGA Tour best by three strokes and equaled Phil Mickelson’s opening 60 at Phoenix as the best round on the tour this season.
After missing the fairways off the tees and making bogeys at Nos. 18 and then No. 1, the latter starting his back nine when he drove into a bunker and had a par putt lip out of the cup, Bradley was at 3 under. He made a 17-foot birdie putt at the 221-yard second hole, and was 7 under his final eight holes with an eagle-birdie-birdie finish.
“It was rare to match up a ball-striking day and make everything. ... It happened today,” Bradley said. “The hole looked huge. Even the putts I missed almost went in.”
The 60, with 10 birdies and an eagle 3 at the 542-yard seventh, gave Bradley a three-stroke lead over 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel among those who played morning rounds.
Robert Karlsson, Harris English and Ted Potter Jr. all had 64s in the morning rounds, which came after 11⁄2 inches of rain fell on the course overnight from a storm system that spawned 10 tornadoes and killed at least six people in North Texas. There was no significant damage to the course, where players were able to lift, clean and place golf balls in fairways.
“Seems like you don’t get many of those opportunities, so being out here first was a bit of an advantage,” said Schwartzel, who hit all 18 greens in regulation. “So much rain, it softened up. Played long off the tee, but it’s a big advantage going into the greens with the second shot. ... You could attack flags.”
Bradley has four consecutive top-10 finishes earlier this season, but missed the cuts in his last two tournaments.