Corey Conners leads by a shot at 4-under-67
Corey Conners leads the opening round at the Valspar Championship being played at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook. And what’s surprising even for him is, he was not supposed to be here with his Monday qualifier round of 71, later Kyle Stanley withdrew and Conners got into the field as an alternate.
“I just finished (the Monday qualifier) and got a call from the Tour saying that I was in,” Conners said. “It was obviously a great feeling to get into the field and I kind of had a mindset of trying to take advantage of sort of a good break.”
Conners, a 26-year-old from Canada had five birdies and just one bogey on his last 18th hole. Winds kept most of the scores above par and challenged most of the players but suited Conners playing style.
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“I seem to play well on difficult golf courses,” Conners said. “Usually (there’s) nothing real flashy about my game. I don’t overpower it, but everything is really solid and on the tough courses, just getting the ball in the fairway and getting solid iron shots on to the green and in a spot where you can get a chance for birdie.”
Following him by a shot is the trio consisting Whee Kim, Kelly Kraft, and Nick Watney at 3-under-68. The average score was nearly a full two shots over par.
Tiger Woods stands T-8th
Tiger Woods shot a round of 1-under-70 consisting five birdies and four bogeys. Woods began his round with a birdie on the par-5 1st, his next birdie came on the par-3 8th when he hit a 213-yard tee shot to 13-feet from the hole and holed it for his second. After a bogey on the par-4 9th Woods birdies back to back on 10th & 11th before posting two more bogeys on 12th & 13th holes. Woods saved an incredible par on the 16th from tree lines after hitting a tree with his arm (video above), and a birdie on par-3 17th kept his round one below par.
“I feel like I’m pleased with every aspect of my game,” Woods said. “I drove it well, I hit a lot of good iron shots today and I had some good speed on the putts. … I thought I really did well today, overall.”
“The hand is fine,” he said. “I didn’t hit my hand. My forearm hit the tree a little bit. I tried to warn all the people there, move them out of the way because I didn’t know if I was—if I pulled back on that at all and tried to really use my hands and flight that ball down and if that club catches and breaks, it’s going to be right over there. I was worried about that.”
Woods is joined by stars like Adam Scott, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker, Jim Furyk, Paul Casey, Charl Schwartzel, Bob Estes, Blayne Barber, Steve Stricker, Luke List, Luke Donald, Stewart Cink, Rory Sabbatini, Chris Kirk, Andrew Putnam, Lucas Glover, Dominic Bozzelli, and Dylan Meyer (Am) for a T-8th position at 1-under-70.
The defending champion Adam Hadwin played a level-par round of 71 for a T-28th finish on the board.
Masters strongest contender Rory McIlroy posted a round of 3-over-74 for a T-87th finish with Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Ryan Moore, Billy Hurley III, Danny Lee, Tony Finau, Henrik Stenson, and Hudson Swafford.
Woods partners Jordan Spieth & Henrik Stenson posted rounds of 5-over-76 and 3-over-74 for a T-122nd and T-87th finish in their opening rounds.