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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Palmer shoots opening round 74 at Valero Texas Open, Branden Grace leads

Palmer+tees+off+on+the+14th+hole.
Photo by By Lawrence Smelser

Palmer tees off on the 14th hole.

Palmer starts hot but struggles in the middle of his round
After finishing tied for 11th at the RBC Heritage last week, Former A&M golfer Ryan Palmer hoped to continue his run of good play Thursday at the Valero Texas Open.
Palmer did just that during the first eight holes, recording birdies on holes two and seven vaulting him up the leaderboard just four shots shy of the lead. The Amarillo native stuck it on the par-3 second hole to within four feet of the pin and calmly rolled in his birdie putt.
Once he reached the ninth green, things began to turn, Palmer’s streak of 23 straight holes without a birdie was snapped as he double bogeyed after having to play his first three shots out of the rough. Palmer then made it three-straight holes losing a stroke when he proceeded to bogey holes 11 and 12.
Palmer finished with a two-over, 74 after bogeying the 16th but pulling one back at the 17th with a tap-in birdie after an impressive second shot to within a foot of the hole.
The PGA Tour veteran is eight back of the leader Brandon Grace and will tee off his second round at 8 a.m. Friday.
Branden Grace opens strong
South Africa’s Branden Grace posted an early score of 66 and no one was able to catch it. The 28-year-old tallied seven birdies on his way to the low score and managed only one bogey.
Grace hit 13-of-14 fairways and 14-of-18 greens. Grace’s 66 signifies his best-ever round at TPC San Antonio. His previous best was 67 in last year’s final round.
“Ball striking was definitely on today,” Grace said after his round. “I gave myself some nice chances out there. It’s nice to make seven birdies that’s the one round I was waiting for. You know. I’ve been shooting in the 69s and 70s but not getting that one low round. This is nice to finally get it.”
Will MacKenzie and others lurk
Despite missing last year’s cut, Will MacKenzie opened this year’s tournament with an impressive opening round 65.
Other than bogeying his first hole, MacKenzie played the next 17 holes strong with six birdies and one lone bogey.
“I’ve been off for three weeks,” MacKenzie said. “I can’t get into tournaments so I’ve been chilling, you know fishing and practicing a little bit. I’m fired up to come out here after [not playing] and work on my game and hopefully shoot some more pretty good scores.”

The 42-year-old sits one back of Branden Grace and is tied for second with John Huh and Stewart Cink.
Last year’s tournament came down to the 72nd hole where Charley Hoffman came out victorious over San Antonio native Patrick Reed.
The defending champion shot a one-under 71 and Reed managed to shoot three-under on his round and is in a tie for 19th.
“The game feels good, feels really solid and steady,” Reed said. “I just need to continue building on the good things today and hopefully go out tomorrow and play bogey-free and shoot five or six-under par.”
 

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