Straka shares first round lead with Dahmen at the Valspar Championship

Straka shares first round lead with Dahmen at the Valspar Championship

Obviously I was the only guy out there in the cold and the rain because I wanted to play well this week.

It was all part of an action-filled day at Innisbrook, where Russell Knox wiped out a double bogey on No. 9 by hitting 3-wood into the cup from 274 yards for an albatross on the par-5 11th, and riding that to a 29 on the back nine.

If there's a horse for the course this week at the Valspar Championship, Paul Casey certainly fits that bill.

"I've never (successfully) defended a professional event".

"This was a huge kick start and all of a sudden the smile on my face got a little bigger and I was able to hit some good shots", said the two-times PGA Tour victor. "The previous year or two hasn't really been that way".

They were at 6-under 136.

Donald, playing in only his second tournament of the season after back trouble in 2018, overtook Casey and Cook with a clutch 33-foot birdie from a greenside bunker at the fifth, his 14th hole.

Scott Stallings (who shot 3 under on Friday), Luke Donald of England (1 under), and Sungjae Im of South Korea (4 under) are tied for third at 5 under.

Lahiri, who has played the event in the past, said, "It was a decent start on a fair but demanding Copperhead course".

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Former US Amateur champion Curtis Luck heads the Aussie charge into the weekend, sitting at four under the card and just two shots off the lead. "You really just got to put yourself in some good spots".

The course is so demanding, and typically tougher in the afternoon, that the tournament is wide open.

There is a sizable tie for ninth place at three under that has Jon Rahm in contention. He made the cut at Innisbrook previous year in his only other time playing the event. He has battled a back injury that forced him to miss most of last season and hasn't won anywhere since the Dunlop Phoenix Tournament in Japan in 2013.

Lahiri opened with a string of nine pars on the front nine and then nailed his first birdie on the 10th from inside six feet. The eagle putt followed a blind shot over a hill on the longest hole at Innisbrook.

"Everybody is going to make bogeys".

Casey carded a final round of six under par to win the tournament by a shot from Tiger Woods in 2018; there are now 19 players within six strokes of his mark of nine under going into Sunday's final round.

He spent the opening two rounds with Johnson, who had to maximize his birdies after his start.

Johnson finished the day with one of the more colourful scorecards.

But the most memorable shot came from Knox on the par-5 11th hole. There was a reason for that.

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