Red-hot putting helps Palmer set Boston pace
NORTON Massachusetts (Reuters) - American Ryan Palmer, whose putting has been razor sharp for the past six weeks, upstaged some of golf's biggest names as he surged into a two-shot lead at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Friday.
The 37-year-old Texan, seeking a fourth PGA Tour victory, reeled off four successive birdies midway through the opening round and signed off by sinking an 18-foot putt on his final hole for an eight-under-par 63 at the TPC Boston.
While world number one Rory McIlroy squandered a red-hot start with a messy finish to card a 70, Palmer mixed nine birdies with a lone bogey to seize control in the second of the PGA Tour's four lucrative FedExCup playoff events.
Keegan Bradley gave his Ryder Cup prospects a timely boost as he fired an opening 65 to finish a stroke in front of fellow Americans Webb Simpson and Chesson Hadley and Australian Jason Day.
Palmer, however, delivered the day's standout performance, barely missing a putt on a firm TPC Boston layout as he continued to benefit from some advice given to him last month by his compatriot Shawn Stefani.
"It was great," Palmer told Golf Channel after totalling just 21 putts in his round. "I've had this feeling since the Open, the British Open.
"When Stefani was talking about his putting changes, I took a little something from that and it's been great for the last couple of months. My short putting has been phenomenal.
"I am making a lot more putts from inside six feet, I'm not missing many, but then when you get the putts going in from 15 feet and in, especially for birdie, it makes for good days."
Palmer, whose most recent PGA Tour win came at the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii, conceded that he was a little fortunate with the birdie putt on his final hole, the par-four ninth. Continued...