Keegan Bradley rolled in eight birdies in a seven-under par 65 on Friday to seize a two-shot lead in the US PGA Tour Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Mississippi.
Bradley, who started the day two shots off the lead, opened his round at the Country Club of Jackson with three straight birdies and he closed with four birdies in his last six holes.
That included a birdie at the 18th, where he stuck his approach less than four feet from the pin to take his 36-hole total to 13-under par 131.
“What a great day, and I’m bringing a lot to the weekend that I’m happy about,” said Bradley, whose four US PGA Tour victories include a major title at the 2011 PGA Championship.
“I just love the course,” added Bradley, who is seeking a first victory since the 2018 BMW Championship. “I love the way it sets up. It’s very simple. You just stand object the tee and rip driver in the fairway hopefully and then the greens are small, but if you can find the fairway you can attack it.”
Bradley was two strokes in front of fellow Americans J.T. Poston and Charley Hoffman.
Hoffman, who was part of a four-way tie for the first-round lead, had seven birdies and four bogeys in a three-under par 69.
“I put myself in position a lot, made a sloppy bogey on my first hole of the day, missed about a four-footer, but then played pretty solid on that front nine,” said Hoffman, who teed off on 10.
“Then coming down my 11th hole, which was the second hole, I had a perfect yardage, perfect number and I dead fatted it and then dead bladed it back-to-back and actually made, when it’s all said and done, a pretty good bogey.
“And then next hole I’m in the middle of the fairway and hit it way right and missed about a four-footer.
“But you know what, off the tee I gave myself a ton of chances,” said Hoffman, who said if he could polish up his iron play and keep putting well he’d be OK on the weekend.
Poston joined Hoffman on 11-under 133 with a five-under 67 that featured six birdies.
Poston, chasing a second US PGA Tour title,was even through nine holes but nabbed back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th then three in a row at 13, 14 and 15 — where he blasted out of a greenside bunker to a foot.
“My caddie was telling me just to stay patient because I didn’t really make a whole lot on the front,” Poston said, adding that he enjoyed putting on the Bermuda grass greens.
He said a par-saving putt at 12 was key and added: “It was nice to get going on the back.”
South Africa’s MJ Daffue was alone in fourth after a 69 for 134. It was a further stroke back to American Denny McCarthy and Norway’s Kristoffer Ventura.
Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz and Americans Jimmy Walker and Kevin Chappell — who shared the first-round lead with Hoffman, couldn’t build on that momentum.
Munoz carded a one-over par 73, Chappell signed for an even par 72 and Walker ballooned to a five-over par 77.