Watson, Yang share lead at suspended Phoenix Open

2:39 AM, Jan 31, 2014   |    comments
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Scottsdale, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - Bubba Watson and Y.E. Yang fired matching 7-under 64s Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open before play was suspended for darkness.

The former major winners sat a stroke ahead of Harris English, Kevin Stadler, William McGirt, Matt Jones, Chris Kirk, Pat Perez and Greg Chalmers, who all carded a 6-under 65 on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale.

Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore, Tommy Gainey, Jason Kokrak, Brendon de Jonge, Brendan Steele and Hideki Matsuyama were tied for 10th at 5-under 66.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who was forced to withdraw from last week's Farmers Insurance Open due to muscle pain in his lower back, posted an up-and- down even-par 71 to sit among a large group of players tied for 65th place.

"My back is fine. My game was a little rusty," said Mickelson.

Ten players will complete their rounds beginning at 10 a.m. ET Friday. The second round will start at its originally scheduled time of 9:30 a.m.

Yang went out with the morning wave and opened his round with a 3-foot birdie putt at the first. He quickly moved to 2-under with another short birdie effort at the third.

After parring his next three holes, he 3-putted for bogey at the seventh to drop back to 1-under at the turn.

He caught fire from there to race to the top of the leaderboard, starting with an 11-foot birdie putt at the 10th.

Yang then capped three straight birdies from the 12th with a 27-foot putt at the 14th to reach 5-under before back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th vaulted him into the clubhouse lead.

"I missed some good shots on the front nine so I was a little angry with myself, but I've been playing some solid golf the past four and a half rounds. I think that's good," said Yang.

Watson also started fast with a 17-foot birdie putt at the first and a 10- foot birdie effort at the second.

He later poured in two more lengthy birdie putts at the sixth and eighth, but gave one of those shots back with a 2-putt bogey from seven feet at the 11th.

Watson didn't drop another shot from there, however, and pulled within two shots of the lead with a pair of kick-in birdies at the 13th and 14th.

The 2012 Masters champion then converted back-to-back birdie chances at the 16th and 17th to claim a share of the lead.

"At the start of the day I wanted to be 5-under. The scores look like a lot of people were making birdies, so around this golf course if you shoot 5-under every day you are doing pretty well," Watson said. "Somehow I got two better, so I guess tomorrow I can shoot 2-under and be OK."

English had earlier surpassed Yang with eight birdies over his first 15 holes, but he could not hang on to the lead and tripped to bogeys at the 16th and 18th to finish a shot off the pace.

NOTES: Yang beat Tiger Woods to win the 2009 PGA Championship ... Watson is 1-2 with at least a share of the 18-hole lead, winning the 2011 Zurich Classic of New Orleans ... Yang has the 18-hole lead for the first time in his career ... Perez was disqualified after the first round of this event last year for signing an incorrect scorecard ... Dudley Hart withdrew prior to the start of the first round and was replaced by Ryo Ishikawa (71).

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