PALM HARBOR FL. Ryan BrehmA memorable round was made by Thursday’s hole-in-one at Innisbrook’s par-3 17th hole. This resulted in a 5-under-66, which led to a three way share of the lead at Valspar Championship.
Jordan SpiethInnisbrook’s first round in five years was a bogey free round. He was particularly sharp with his putter, making birdie-putts of 60 feet as well as 30 feet to get to a score of 67. Former champions of the U.S. Open were also at 67 Lucas Glover Maverick McNealy.
This is Brehm’s first lead since he won the Puerto Rico Open last season in his final attempt at a PGA Tour card. It has not been an easy road. Brehm has only made three cuts this season, one at Kapalua. He is coming off an 80 in last week’s second round at The Players Championship.
He said, “We’ve been grinding for some time since then to try to find some good form again. And hopefully… it has been showing signs of good playing.”
His ace was a 6-iron at 196 yards. He closed with a par. It was his 11th time reaching the 60s in 43 rounds this season on the PGA Tour.
Jaeger scored seven birdies in the morning. The temperatures were cold enough for some players wearing beanies and extra layers.
Schenk completed his round with a 10-foot par save at the par-3 eighth hole. Then, after going bunker to bunker on the ninth, Schenk made a par putt starting from 5 feet.
Innisbrook is a highly-regarded tournament course with tree-lined fairways and elevation, but not nearly as many water hazards as other courses in Florida. Scoring isn’t particularly low.
Brehm stated that “I’m uncomfortable out there at any time, but I don’t think anybody is — maybe Sam Burns; they’ve won it a couple of times,” Brehm added. It’s a great test of golf, I think. Golf is not supposed to be difficult, I don’t think so, and the course does a great job of making it challenging.
U.S. Open champions had the toughest start of any person Matt Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick pulled his third hole tee shot from play. His third shot from his tee shot found the water. He was penalized for dropping it. It was followed by consecutive bogeys.
Fitzpatrick was 42 when he went out, but he came back with a 32. Fitzpatrick came into Valspar Championship after missing three cuts in his five previous tournaments.
Since The Players Championship moved back in March, Spieth hasn’t been able o fit Innisbrook into the schedule. But he wants to return this year. This is his fourth tournament in five weeks, with Match Play next week.
Before he got a card, Spieth chipped on the 17th hole and tied the seventh. This allowed him to be granted temporary special membership on the PGA Tour. He won the Valspar Championship two years later in a playoff with a 30-foot birdie. This was 2015, the year he won both the Masters and U.S. Open.
His putting was the main focus of this round. He made long birdies and, equally important, putts that were mid-length. This kept his round going. Spieth missed only five fairways.
Spieth stated that if you only hit five fairways, you can do that around this area and shoot under par. This accounts for a few tee shots off the short grass. “I was able get a few extra putts today. I feel like my putting is moving in the right direction.