Phoenix freeze: Haas up front again

Freezing conditions were the main talking point during the fractured first round at the Phoenix Open.

Freezing conditions were the main talking point during the fractured first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where last week’s early-round leader, Bill Haas, was up front again, this time in a four-way tie that included Tom Lehman, Jason Bohn and Tom Gillis.

All shot six-under-par 65s to share the clubhouse lead in the icy conditions.

The start of the tournament was delayed by four hours due to a heavy layer of frost on the course and this had the knock-on effect of leaving 66 players stranded out on the course when bad light caused the first round to be suspended

More delays are expected at a frozen TPC Scottsdale on Friday when the second round won’t get going until the first round is completed and when further delays are expected to send the second round into Saturday

On Thursday, three men were in the chasing pack with Chris Couch, Lucas Glover and Ben Crane a stroke back from the four leaders.

Phil Mickelson was a further shot back among those on 67, having seemingly handled the conditions better than most, spending much of the day in short sleeves.

In contrast, Bubba Watson, who finished on 70, was wearing skiing gear and mittens to keep warm.

Mickelson, the reigning Masters champion and a Phoenix Open winner in 1996 and 2005, was surprised at just how well the stadium course at Scottsdale played after the frost-delayed start.

“I expected the golf course to be frozen and for balls to be bouncing on the greens quite a ways,” the left-hander told the media afterwards. “But it played terrific. The greens were receptive and I thought the course and set-up was in great shape.”

Mickelson, runner-up at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, felt his score on Thursday did not truly show how well he had played.

“I started and finished with a bogey but, in between there, I hit a lot of good shots and played well,” he said. “I didn’t score as low as I probably should have or would have liked, but I didn’t hurt myself at all.

“I’m in good shape after one day. I feel like I’m playing well. We’re going to have some great weather on Saturday and Sunday, and I’m excited to get out on this golf course.”

Lehman, who won the most recent of his five PGA Tour titles at the 2000 Phoenix Open, was delighted with his round and especially with his burst of three birdies on the last four holes.

“It was a good day,” said the 51-year-old former Open Champion who plays the bulk of his golf on the Champions Tour these days

“I got off to a mediocre start, just a bunch of pars and then a chip-in on five. I started hitting the ball better and better and better as the day went on. So I’m happy.”

Former world number one Vijay Singh, like Mickelson a double champion here, opened with a 69 while Watson, winner of last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, carded a 70.

Leading the charge of the 66 still to finish was long-hitter Dustin Johnson. He was tied with the Mickelson group at 4-under – after only five holes!

Next best was fellow American Jimmy Walker who was at 3-under after eight holes.