Bradley helps cause in player of the year race

Keegan Bradley shot 65 and holds a two-stroke lead in the HSBC Champions, a World Golf Championship tournament.



SHANGHAI — PGA champion Keegan Bradley cares more about counting birdies than votes. He flew halfway around the world with the intention of winning a World Golf Championship, not any kind of an award.

Bradley did most of his damage on the par 5s at Sheshan International with three birdies and an eagle, which carried him to 7-under-par 65 on Thursday and a two-shot lead after the one round of the HSBC Champions.

“A very rewarding round,” Bradley said.

Bo Van Pelt extended his awesome Asian adventure. Coming off a six-shot win in Malaysia last week, Van Pelt had 67 and was tied for second with Alexander Noren and Fredrik Jacobson.

The PGA Tour felt it should wait until after the HSBC Champions to send out its postseason awards ballot because this tournament counts as official if a PGA Tour member were to win. If there was one player considered a threat to Luke Donald as player of the year, it would be Bradley. Winning in Shanghai would give him a tour-leading three victories, including a major and a World Golf Championship.

Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, closed with 64 to win Disney for his second win of the year, giving him the money title and Vardon Trophy for the low scoring average.

However, he was kept from playing the HSBC Champions because his wife is expecting their second child any day.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: In San Francisco, U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples shot 3-under-par 68 for a share of the lead with assistant captain Jay Haas after the first round of the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Championship.

WOODS CONFIDENT: Tiger Woods believes he’s ready to return to top form after shaking off injuries that have undermined his performance for the past two years.

“I made some changes in my swing and I’ve obviously been hurt and that kind of added to it. Now I’m healthy, playing again, playing more and playing consistently,” Woods said during a one-day stopover in Singapore.

He is scheduled to play in the Australian Open from Nov. 10-13.