KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Mark Hensby, former champion Tom Scherrer, Tjaart van der Walt and David McKenzie each posted 7-under-par 65s to share the clubhouse lead in the opening round of the rain-delayed Knoxville Open.
Thursday's opening round was delayed three hours by early afternoon thunderstorms, keeping 39 players from completing play. That group will return to the course Friday morning and be in position to resume play at 7:30. Meantime, second-round play will begin at 7:45 a.m.
Co-leaders Hensby and Scherrer played in the morning wave and are a veteran pair who share similar professional histories -- both are former PGA TOUR winners and both are three-time Nationwide Tour winners.
Hensby, a 36-year old Australian who lives in Arizona, suffered a torn rotator cuff midway through last year's Tour schedule and is on a rehab schedule, playing in just his fourth event in eight months. Scherrer, 38, grew up in the Syracuse area but now lives back in North Carolina, where he played collegiately for the Tarheels.
"I was a little surprised. I certainly didn't see it coming," said Hensby, who missed only two fairways and two greens. "I'm not rusty playing but I am rusty tournament-wise."
Hensby felt his shoulder go numb at The Memorial last May and has been struggling to get healthy since. He opted against surgery after being told the procedure would sideline him for an extended period. Instead, the 2004 John Deere Classic champion has taken the non-invasive road to recovery.
"I would have been out for such a long time," he said. "I just couldn't do it."
Hensby is now just trying to get back into the swing of things and will play on whichever Tour has a spot for him. He is one for two in cuts made on the Nationwide Tour and missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open, his only PGA TOUR start this year.
Scherrer first popped up on the scene in 1993 following a standout career at UNC. His first career title came in this event in 1995, but not at the current site.
"I enjoy the area. I love the golf courses," said Scherrer, who won at Three Ridges Golf Club, about 30 miles away on the northeast side of town. "I'm happy with a 65 any day of the week, Tuesday, Sunday or Thursday. There's a long way to go and I'm not thinking about my victory speech just yet."
Scherrer, T5 at the Melwood Prince George's County Open a week ago, had finished 17 holes when thunderstorms moved into the area just after noon and force a lengthy delay.
"Sadly, you get used to it," he said of the delay. "This is my 18th year as a pro, it comes with the territory. You're out here long enough, you see a little bit of everything. I was joking that last week I played 24 holes on Saturday and 36 on Sunday. I wish I was 28, not 38."
Age wasn't the issue for the 40-year old Morland, it was geography. After finishing last week's event in the greater Baltimore area, Morland accompanied his 12-year old son's Little League baseball team to Cooperstown, N.Y. for the start of a 104-team tournament. When the team was eliminated Wednesday morning, Morland got into his car and drove 810 miles to Knoxville, arriving around 1 a.m., barely long enough to catch a few winks before his 7:35 tee time.
"I need some sleep," he said after a 35-31 round that featured eight birdies. "It wasn't frustrating on the front nine, I was just tired. I just thought I needed to be patient and good things would happen. I'm not surprised because I've been playing well. I made some good shots and made some putts and he we are."
• Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for Round 1.
• Play was suspended at 12:55 due to threatening conditions in the area. A front containing thunderstorms moved through the area and play eventually resumed at 3:55 p.m.
• Play was suspended for the evening at 8:50 p.m. because of darkness.
• Ryan Armour had a hole-in-one during Thursday's morning play. Armour aced the 191-yard, 2ndhole using a 5-iron. It was the 12th hole-in-one in the tournament's 20-year history and the eighth since the event moved to Fox Den CC in 1999.
• Ben Bates withdrew during the round because of a wrist injury.