Steve Jones isn't leading, but he's still very much alive in his quest for a rare third consecutive victory on the PGA Tour.
"I feel very good about it," Jones said Thursday after a 68 in the uncompleted first round of the $700,000 Phoenix Open golf tournament."I really thought I had it going after that chip-in," which provided one of his seven birdies. "But then I made a couple of mistakes," including hitting one into the water. He bogeyed two of the last three holes on the 6,992-yard, par-71 TPC at Scottsdale.
Still, the man who won the first two titles on the PGA Tour this year finished three under par and was five strokes back of Ken Green, who finished off a 63 moments before play was halted by darkness.
Nine men were still playing when the round was suspended. They marked their positions and were scheduled to return shortly after daylight to resume play. None appeared to have a chance to finish among the leaders.
"It was getting pretty dark," said Green, who played his back nine in 30, highlighted by a 50-foot putt for an eagle-3 on the 13th and tap-in birdie putts of less than a foot on the 15th, 16th and 17th.
Scott Hoch, Ted Schulz and Mark McCumber were one stroke back of Green with 64s on a warm day without wind.
"Ideal scoring conditions," Howard Twitty, one of five tied at 65, said. Also at that figure were Jim Gallagher, Corey Pavin, Mark Lye and Billy Glasson.
U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange, fresh from a victory in Australia, and Ben Crenshaw were among a large group at 66, five under par.
Tom Watson opened his season with a 1-over-par 72.
Masters champion Sandy Lyle, the defending title-holder in this event, had a 68.
Jones, who won only once in five seasons on the pro tour, won the Tournament of Champions and the Bob Hope Classic and came into this event with a chance to become the first man to win three American titles in a row since Gary Player in 1978.
"No, there's still no pressure because nobody expects me to win again," Jones said.
He matched par over his front nine, then birdied five of the next six holes.
"He looked like a man who's on a streak and is really enjoying it," said Strange, who played in the same threesome with Jones.