PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) — Matt Every made the best of the worst conditions Thursday with a 3-under 68 to take the early lead in the Valspar Championship.
The third leg of the Florida swing was greeted with frigid air and gusts over 20 mph. The Copperhead Course at Innisbrook already is one of the toughest in Florida, and the cold wind made it even harder. Three players from the morning wave shot in the 60s.
"I would have been satisfied with 2 over today," Every said. "It was tough. This morning you couldn't feel your hands. The wind was brutal."
Robert Garrigus and Michael Putnam each had a 69. Russell Knox, part of the four-man playoff two weeks ago at the Honda Classic, was among those at 70.
The afternoon was shaping up favorably for the late starters, such as Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar, because temperatures warmed and the wind began to ease.
This was one of those rare days in Florida where the players who went off early paid for it.
"This course isn't easy in good conditions," said Luke Donald, who was in the group at even-par 71 along with Jordan Spieth. "The wind was really affecting some of the shots pretty hard. It was a good battle out there today."
Every traded birdies and bogeys until a strong finish. He made birdie putts of 15 feet on the sixth and seventh holes, and then made a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-3 eighth and he made par from a fairway bunker on his last hole.