Windy conditions made an already difficult TPC San Antonio even harder on Thursday at the Valero Texas Open, but Grayson Murray was up to the challenge. Despite having never played the course before Wednesday, Murray carded a five-under 67 with seven birdies and a double bogey, giving him a one-stroke lead.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this course, other than yesterday obviously. I didn’t play last year, but it sets up really good for my game, I can hit a lot of drivers out there, which is a strength when I’m swinging it well,” said Murray.
The 2017 Barbasol Championship winner leads the field in strokes-gained/off-the-tee, a stat he ranked 80th in on tour entering the week. A good day with the driver plus a good grouping contributed to an impressive performance from the 24-year-old.
“I had a good grouping today with G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) and Badds (Aaron Baddeley), kind of fed off each other, it was nice,” he said.
While Murray has had some tough moments this year, like shooting three rounds in the 80s, he’s actually had a respectable second season on tour, making 10 of his 13 cuts, finishing in the top 25 six times and twice in the top 10.
Five players are at four-under, including Chesson Hadley, who made just one bogey despite missing eight greens en route to his 68. The former Georgia Tech All-American ranks fourth in the field in strokes-gained putting, and he’s tied for fifth in scrambling.
“That could have been maybe the best round I played this year, just from how hard it was and how difficult the course is and kind of everything that’s going on, that’s just off the top of my head,” Hadley said. “I played so well today, proud of myself for hanging in there. I certainly made some putts, which, you can score when you make putts.
“I just pieced it together pretty well today, I made, I know I made one par I definitely shouldn’t have made, but I’m not going to do it over again or give it back. Tremendously pleased with the round today.”
This is Hadley’s fourth start at the Valero, where he’s had mixed results, tying for 56th in 2014, tying for fourth in 2015 and missing the cut in 2016.
Also at four under are Billy Horschel, Ryan Moore and Keegan Bradley, a trio that combined for 13 birdies and just one bogey, which came from Bradley.