Woods struggles as Bradley in early control

Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:34pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Reuters) - While Tiger Woods struggled in his first PGA Tour start of the season, Keegan Bradley birdied four of his last eight holes to seize an early one-shot lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Thursday.

Bradley, who recently switched back from a long to a short putter, produced a sizzling display of all-round golf on the way to a six-under-par 65 in the opening round at the TPC Scottsdale.

The 28-year-old American racked up seven birdies and a lone bogey to end a mainly overcast day in the Arizona desert one stroke ahead of compatriots Zach Johnson, Robert Streb and Ben Martin, and Scotland's Martin Laird.

"Feels so good to go out and play a really solid round tee to green," Bradley, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour, told reporters.

"Made a bunch of putts, which feels good. It's a relief to go out and shoot a good number in the first round to hopefully get my season going."

Woods, however, looked very rusty in his first PGA Tour event in five months, especially struggling with his short game as he reached the turn in a messy four-over 39.

Watched by massive galleries more reminiscent of a major championship than a regular tour event, the former world number one mixed three bogeys with a double at the par-three fourth and a sole birdie to plummet well down the leaderboard.

Twice major champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina was among a group of six players knotted on 67 while three-times former winner Phil Mickelson, a popular figure at Scottsdale after attending the nearby Arizona State University, carded a 69.   Continued...

Jan 29, 2015; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Keegan Bradley hits his drive on the par-4 11th hole during the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports