SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ryan Palmer parred his final hole at dusk for 7-under-par 64 and the lead Thursday in the suspended first round of the Phoenix Open.
The start of the round was delayed an hour because of frost, and play was suspended because of darkness at 6:05 p.m. with 42 players unable to finish. Last year, frost and frozen greens delayed play nine hours during the week, forcing a Monday finish.
“I knew I was going to be here in the morning for the second round, so I wasn’t worried about it if we had to come back and restart,” Palmer said. “So, I didn’t think about it and I just kept hitting shots and sticking to my game plan.”
Webb Simpson was a stroke back on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale.
“It’s one of those courses that just fits your eye well,” said Simpson, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 6.
Palmer switched back to a trusted Odyssey putter model after missing the cuts in his previous starts this year in the Sony Open and Humana Challenge. The three-tour PGA Tour winner made seven birdie putts from 10-15 feet.
Jarrod Lyle, Harrison Frazar, Derek Lamely, Kevin Na and Chez Reavie were two strokes behind at 66, and Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner and Spencer Levin also were 5-under. Watson and Levin had three holes left. Dufner, a playoff loser last year, had five holes remaining.
Former Clemson golfer Kyle Stanley opened with 69, four days after a devastating loss in the Farmers Insurance Open. On Sunday at Torrey Pines, he made a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole of regulation and lost to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff.
“It was just good to be out there,” Stanley said. “It was almost therapeutic.”
He was 4-under with three holes left, but bogeyed Nos. 7 and 9.
“I hit it decent,” Stanley said. “Hit a couple wedges that didn’t respond the way I thought they were going to, but other than that, I’m pretty pleased.”
He received warm cheers and words of encouragement from the fans.
“I’m kind of overwhelmed by it,” Stanley said.
Phil Mickelson had 24 putts in his 68, and defending champion Mark Wilson, coming off a victory two weeks ago in the Humana Challenge, was 1-under with two holes left.
“I feel so good with the putter,” said Mickelson, the former Arizona State star who won the tournament in 1996 and 2005. “It’s been a little while. It’s been a few years since the guys out here have seen me putt like this.”