Palm Harbor, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Danny Lee carded a 3-under 68 on Thursday to claim a share of the lead after the opening round of the Valspar Championship.
Lee, who was the runner-up last week at the Puerto Rico Open, was joined by Matt Every, Pat Perez and Greg Chalmers atop the leaderboard on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook.
"I gained a lot of confidence after last week playing with the finish in Puerto Rico," Lee said. "It really helped me a lot with that confidence stuff, and I'm hitting it really well right now. My ball striking is the best it's ever been, especially with the putting."
Five-time PGA Tour winner Bill Haas highlights a group of seven players tied for fifth place at 2-under 69. He is joined by Matteo Manassero, Robert Garrigus, Michael Putnam, James Hahn, Nicolas Colsaerts and Tommy Gainey.
Former British Open winner Ben Curtis is among a mass of 14 players sharing 12th at 1-under 70. Also among that group is Rory Sabbatini, Jonathan Byrd, Ben Crane and Freddie Jacobson.
Every held the clubhouse lead after a cold and windy morning.
He opened his day with five straight pars before missing the green with his tee shot at the par-3 15th and 2-putting for bogey.
He would get that shot back with a 12-foot birdie putt at the 17th and reached 1-under with a short birdie effort at the first.
A bogey at the third dropped him back to even par, but he rolled in back-to- back 14-foot birdie putts at the sixth and seventh before making it three gains in a row at the eighth to move to 3-under. He parred the ninth to stay there.
With better scoring conditions in the afternoon, Every was met atop the leaderboard several times until Lee birdied the first, his 10th, to claim the outright lead.
Lee had earlier reached red numbers with a 2-putt birdie at the 11th that he followed with a 17-foot birdie at the 12th.
He added another birdie at the 15th to meet Every at 3-under, and later converted a 26-foot birdie putt at the first to move into sole possession of first place.
Lee could not maintain the lead, however, as he bogeyed the sixth to fall back to 3-under. He parred his final three holes.
Perez started his round with a bogey at the 10th, but bounced right back with back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th to move to 1-under.
He traded a bogey at the 15th with a kick-in birdie at the 17th to remain there at the turn.
A 6-foot birdie putt at the first pulled him within a shot of the lead and he later ended his day with a 20-foot birdie putt at the ninth to reach the top of the leaderboard.
"I knew it was going to be brutal this morning, We got lucky with the later tee time," said Perez. "We got some good weather and I was able to take advantage of some of the harder holes."
Chalmers also started on the back nine and traded an opening bogey with consecutive birdies at the second and third.
An errant drive at the 18th led to another bogey, but he again bounced right back with an 8-foot birdie at the first.
He would then chip in for birdie at the par-3 fourth after missing the green off the tee before converting a 61-foot birdie putt at the sixth to claim a share of the lead. He parred his final three holes to remain at minus-3.
NOTES: Lee's second-place finish last week was a career best ... Every has missed the cut in his three career starts at this event ... The only first- round leader of the Valspar Championship to hang on for the win was K.J. Choi in 2002 ... The scoring average in the afternoon dropped from 73.07 in the morning to 72.21 ... There were no eagles recorded in the first round of the tournament for the first time since round three of 2007 ... Blake Adams withdrew after his first round with a hip injury.