Keegan Bradley shot 4-under-par 67 to tie Ken Duke and Charles Howell III for the first-round lead in the Valspar Championship in windy conditions on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.
Bradley, using a conventional putter after his belly model was banned as of Jan. 1, birdied three of the first four holes of the front nine before making his only bogey at No. 6 after starting on the 10th hole.
“I drove the ball really well and I had a really good day on the greens,” said Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion who claimed the last of his three PGA Tour victories in the 2012 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. “It’s been a while, so it was really a nice feeling.
“It was fun to feel the buzz when you’re having a good round because it’s been a while, and it felt better than the score because how comfortable I was out there. The course is hard as it is, but with gusty winds it’s really tough.”
The 47-year-old Duke, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2013 Travelers Championship, birdied three of the last six holes in his bogey-free 67, while Howell, who has won twice but not since the 2007 Nissan Open, also played bogey-free with two birdies on each nine.
Chesson Hadley carded a 68 and was alone in fourth, while Charley Hoffman of Poway had a 69 and was tied for fifth with Chez Reavie and Greg Yates.
Jamie Lovemark of Rancho Santa Fe and USC recorded a 70 and was in a massive tie for eighth with Daniel Berger, Matt Every, Brian Harman, Danny Willett of England, Jerry Kelly, Brandon Hagy, Scott Brown, Jonas Blixt of Sweden, Ryan Moore, Retief Goosen of South Africa, Webb Simpson, Martin Kaymer of Germany, Danny Lee of New Zealand, Will MacKenzie, Cameron Smith of Australia and Tyler Aldridge.
Top-ranked Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, continued his recent struggles with a 75 that included only one birdie and was tied for 117th.