Watson, Yang share Phoenix lead

US Tour

Bubba Watson and YE Yang carded seven-under-par 64s to share a one-shot lead at the Phoenix Open when play was halted prematurely.

A group of seven players – Pat Perez, Kevin Stadler, William McGirt, Greg Chalmers, Matt Jones, Harris English, Chris Kirk – all carded 65s to finish the round a single stroke behind the leading pair.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson overcame a back injury to start in Phoenix, but seemed a little off-colour and went into the clubhouse with a level par 71.

“My game was a little rusty,” he told pgatour.com.

“I wasn’t quite focused on every shot the way I need to be, and let way too many shots slide.”

Of the players yet to finish their first rounds, Kiradech Aphibarnrat is the front-runner having reached four-under through 14.

Yang started his round slowly and only turned at one-under, but then cruised through a flawless back nine which included six birdies.

“I missed some good chances on the front nine so I was a little bit angry with myself but I’ve been playing some solid golf for the last four-and-a-half rounds so I think it’s good,” the 2009 USPGA champion told the official PGA Tour website after his round.

Watson’s round was somewhat different to that of Yang, carding four birdies on the front and back nine, with a solitary bogey on the 11th denying him the sole lead.

At five-under, two shots behind the leaders are Hunter Mahan and 2011 USPGA champion Keegan Bradley, as well as Ryan Moore, Tommy Gainey, Jason Kokrak, Brendon de Jonge and Brendan Steele.

Lee Westwood and Martin Laird were another shot behind after rounds of 67, while Ryder Cup trio Nicolas Colsaerts, Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter remained in contention after rounds of 69 in the first round.

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