Bradley's score was one thing, but the fact that he had played as well as he did in front of Westwood and Scott appealed to him enormously. "Any time you can do well in a group like that it feels good, especially in a tournament like this," said the 2011 PGA champion. "It's been a thoroughly rewarding round."
Though he had played with Scott before, this was the first time the PGA Tour rookie had teed up in the company of Westwood. Veteran players such as Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk may have played their part in helping him to feel at home in game's upper echelons but Bradley will tell you that he continues to marvel at the golfing company he's keeping."There are times," he said, "when I feel like I have to pinch myself out here because of what's going on and just how much fun I'm having."
The American made five birdies and an eagle, with his eagle at the ninth taking in his best shot of the day, a second with a hybrid which finished 20 feet from the flag. Pete Cowen, who coaches such as Westwood, McDowell and Clarke, had watched Bradley winning the recent Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda and predicted that he would putt well on these Sheshan greens and he was right enough.
Bradley holed that 20-footer and made an assortment of five to ten footers before getting down in two from 65 feet at the last to hang on to his seven-under tally.
Noren, another Cowen pupil, had six birdies in his 67; Van Pelt seven after a burst of three in a row on each half; and Jacobson five birdies and an eagle.
Any number of good players are on the heels of the leaders, with McDowell, last year's US Open champion, among them on three under.
The Ulsterman had a triple bogey six at the short 17th , where he blocked his five-wood into the hazard but, on the other side of the coin, he had three birdies in a row from the 12th and seven in all. "Seven birdies today on this course isn't bad going," he said. "I struck the ball well and was happy with the way I battled back over the front nine."
He has struggled to control the ball as he did in 2010 but, following a session with Cowen on the range on Tuesday, he felt 'my old self' was on the way back.
Asked to describe the highs of 2010 year against his relative lows of 2011, McDowell reminded his audience that this was golf. "The lows have felt low this year but they really shouldn't. That's the thing about this game, we often don't give ourselves credit when credit is due, but we are pretty good at beating ourselves up. I think if you were to ask all the players in this field if they are better at beating themselves up or giving themselves credit, they would agree with me."
McDowell's good pal, Rory McIlroy, had a two-under-par 70 in which the spectators could not have followed more eagerly had he made 18 birdies rather than a somewhat frugal three.
The 22-year-old Mcilroy, who won last week in Shanghai, has captured the imagination of the Chinese golfing fold as no-one else. While his proud girlfriend, Caroline Wozniaki, looked on, he completed his day by signing at least twice as many autographs as he had hit shots.