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Thursday, 03 November 2011
Keegan Bradley  (Getty Images)
Keegan Bradley (Getty Images)
Keegan Bradley's dream rookie year continued as he began the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai with a seven under par 65.

The 25 year old American, whose play-off victory at the US PGA Championship in August came in the first Major of his life, had an eagle and five birdies in a flawless display.

Bradley leads by two from compatriot Bo Van Pelt - winner in Malaysia on Sunday - and Swedes Alex Noren and Fredrik Jacobson.

Justin Rose and Thongchai Jaidee were amongst those to go round in a 68, while Lee Westwood, runner-up last year, shot 69, the same score as Martin Kaymer, Simon Dyson and Graeme McDowell.

This time last year Bradley was graduating from the Nationwide Tour in the United States, but he is now a star of the game.

Only last month he beat the season's other Major winners Rory McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel and Darren Clarke to lift the PGA Grand Slam and he continued that form in only his second WGC event.

Playing with Westwood and Australian Adam Scott, he started with a birdie on the 401 yard tenth, added another on the long 14th and then holed a 15 foot eagle putt at the 538 yard 18th.

Further shots were then picked up on the second and fifth.

“Any time you can play well in a group like that, with Lee Westwood and Adam Scott, it feels very good,” said Bradley. “Especially in a tournament like this, the HSBC World Golf Championships. 

“I'm just very proud of the way I played, and it's just a very rewarding round. 

“It's my first time playing with Lee, and I've played with Adam before I played with him the first round of the Tour Championship. I played well there, too. 

“For me, every week I'm amazed at who I'm around. To be in a group like that in this tournament and to play like that on this course, is very rewarding and it means a lot to me.” 

Noren bogeyed the first but came back with six birdies, and having won twice on The European Tour in 2011 the 29 year old feels he is ready to start contending in Majors and WGC events.

“I need to play a bit more in these events and in the Majors,” he said. “Because you can play in the top European tournaments, and so I think that's the next step for me. 

“I've got to play and see that I can compete with them on tough courses. I did play okay at the PGA and the US Open, but on the toughest courses the best get better, so you've got to start playing these tough courses and against these fields.”

Westwood came close to an albatross at the 594 yard 14th, his approach over the water hitting the flag and stopping less than two feet away.

McDowell had a real rollercoaster ride - reaching four under early on, triple-bogeying the short 17th after hitting his tee shot into the bushes, but then came back from a bogey at the first with three birdies in the next four.

Italian Francesco Molinari, the defending champion, was five under with two to go, but found water on both of them and fell back to two under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KAYMER, MartinGER18-20
2JACOBSON, FredrikSWE18-17
3MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-16
T4SCHWARTZEL, CharlRSA18-15
T4CASEY, PaulENG18-15
T4MCILROY, RoryNIR18-15
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