Friday, April 30, 2021
In a reversal of most of his recent performances, Ted Potter got off to a flying start in the Valspar Championship in nearby Palm Harbor yesterday, with an eagle and an excellent day around the greens propelling him to a 4-under-par 67 and a share of seventh place. He wound up with more TV time than he has enjoyed in all his previous events in the 2020-2021 season combined.
Ted began on the back nine and immediately went 1 under with a birdie on No. 11. He then birdied the par-5 14th after a dead-on wedge left him with a putt of just 6 feet, 10 inches. He closed out the nine by canning a snake of 26 feet, 9 inches and went to No. 1 at 3-under 32.
On the par-5 first, he drove it 307 yards into the left rough, from where he hit a 249-yard second that rolled up to 17 feet, 11 inches from the hole and he promptly drained it for the eagle 3. At the time, he was 5 under and tied for second, two strokes behind Keegan Bradley, who had finished early at 7 under 64 and watched it stand up all day.
Ted saved par on No. 3 by getting it up and down from a greenside bunker, making a putt of 6 feet, 3 inches. He made another important save on the par-3 fourth with a putt of 10 feet, 1 inch after missing the green well to the right. He missed a chance to go 6 or 7 under when he couldn't convert a birdie putt of 7 feet, 4 inches on No. 5 and one of 14 feet, 10 inches on 6, but he saved a stroke on 7 by making a par putt of 11 feet, 1 inch.
The par-3 8th proved to be Ted's only slip when he left his tee shot in a greenside bunker, hit a poor second out of the sand, and had to make a 3 foot, 4-inch putt for bogey. He then two-putted No. 9 from 17 feet, 10 inches for a round of 32-35-67 on the course that features four par 5 holes and five par 3's. He wound up with the eagle, three birdies and the lone bogey, hitting 9 of 13 fairways and 12 of 18 greens.
There are five players tied for second at 5 under 66, including Emiliano Grillo and Seminole Hank Lebioda. Ted is tied for seventh with six others, and there are 14 tied at 68, including USF's Chase Koepka. Gator Camilo Villegas is at even-par 71 and tied for 66th, while Brian Gay is at 2-over 73 and tied for 110th. Paul Casey, who has won the last two Innisbrook events, is at 3 under.
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