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Valspar golfers get creative with personalized caddie bibs

Also, Tampa’s Jackson Suber finishes the first round of his PGA Tour debut shooting 1-under 70.
The Valspar Championship allows players to choose what they would like on the back of their caddies' jerseys as part of their Fun in the Sun initiative. Lanto Griffin wrote “It’s Lawn-toe” on his while Matt Kuchar opted for “Kick Me.”
The Valspar Championship allows players to choose what they would like on the back of their caddies' jerseys as part of their Fun in the Sun initiative. Lanto Griffin wrote “It’s Lawn-toe” on his while Matt Kuchar opted for “Kick Me.” [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]
Published Mar. 18|Updated Mar. 18

PALM HARBOR — Just before Lanto Griffin checked in for the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook, he contemplated whether he should go with a phrase on the back of his caddie’s bib or stick with his last name.

All it took was the registration workers mispronouncing his first name and he had his answer.

On Thursday, his caddie, Andy Sanders, wore “It’s Lawn-toe” on the back of his bib as the duo worked the Copperhead Course in the first round.

The Valspar is the only tournament on the PGA Tour that allows golfers to personalize their caddie’s bib for the event. While many players keep it simple and go with their last name or social media handle, others go with something whimsical.

“Ninety-five percent of the time I get Lan-tow,” said Griffin, who shot 1-over 72. “I was thinking about it driving down. I probably wasn’t going to do (his first name on the bib), and I walked into registration, and both registration ladies were like, ‘Lanto?’ And I’m like, ‘Yep, we’re doing it.’ "

Professional golfer Danny Lee chats with a group of caddies on Thursday. Lee finished the day at 6-under 65.
Professional golfer Danny Lee chats with a group of caddies on Thursday. Lee finished the day at 6-under 65. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

While Matt Kuchar was checking in, he joked at the registration desk that he should put “Kick Me” on the back of his caddie, Brian Reed. When he picked up his scorecard Thursday morning, he was surprised to see his joke had become reality.

“I said it completely trying to make the lady who wrote it down laugh,” Kuchar said, chuckling. “I had no intention to really go through with it.

“(Reed) was not real appreciative on the opening tee shot. He said, ‘Thanks a lot.’ But I think I’m the only one who kicked him, though, all day … I kicked him for luck on the first tee, and it turned out to be a pretty good day.”

Kuchar shot 4-under 67 and was in a large group three shots off the lead.

He appreciates the opportunity to have something different and personal for the tournament.

“It’s fun,” he said. “This tournament is a great event and one I look forward to every year. They do some fun activities. … There are so many pluses here.”

Jackson Suber content with Tour debut

Tampa native Jackson Suber tees off on No. 9 in his PGA Tour debut Thursday.
Tampa native Jackson Suber tees off on No. 9 in his PGA Tour debut Thursday. [ ARIELLE BADER | Special to the Times ]

After Tampa native Jackson Suber nailed a 1-foot putt for par, a celebration rang out from his personal fan group outside the ropes. The shot marked the end to the first round of his PGA Tour debut. He finished at 1-under 70.

“It went well,” said Suber, a 22-year-old Plant High alumnus and a senior at Mississippi. “Had some ups and downs, not very consistent of good and bad shots, but grinded pretty hard and put up a decent number, so not out of it.”

Suber, playing on a sponsor exemption, had four birdies and three bogeys in his round.

After starting on the back nine in the afternoon, Suber felt he was able to settle in a little better, with a 36-foot putt for his first birdie of the day on the par-3 13th.

Another standout moment was his 45-foot chip-in from the rough for birdie on the par-3 No. 4.

“That was a really cool moment,” Suber said. “With everyone yelling, it got me going.”

Suber has tried to take in as much of the Valspar experience as possible, but it’s hard for him to compare it to anything else.

“It’s kind of like Disneyland for a golfer,” Suber said, “out here, especially,”

Different start for Keegan Bradley

Keegan Bradley didn’t pick up where he left off last year.

Bradley, who finished three strokes behind champion Sam Burns in second, shot 1-under 70 in the first round Thursday. Last year he led after the first round with 7-under 64.

“I didn’t play that well,” Bradley said. “But 1 under par is a pretty good score for how I played, so I’m happy about that. Hopefully get a little rest and shoot a lower one (Friday).”

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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