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February 3 2012

2:06 AM

Palmer fires 64 to lead by one

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ryan Palmer knew the shadows were lengthening on Thursday afternoon.

At the same time, though, he still had work to do. The Texan was going low at TPC Scottsdale and he wanted to finish strong.

That's exactly what Palmer did, shooting consecutive 32s to get to the clubhouse at 7 under and one stroke ahead of Webb Simpson after the first round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Palmer surged past the former Wake Forest All-American when he birdied three straight holes on his second nine.

Turns out, Palmer's final putt at the ninth hole dropped minutes before play was suspended by darkness at 8:05 p.m. ET. A total of 42 players were stranded on the course and must return at 9:30 a.m. ET to finish off their rounds.

Mother Nature permitting, the second round will also begin at 9:30 a.m. ET. But Thursday began with an hour's frost delay and the forecast for Friday is for even chillier temperatures.

"Probably about my last three or four holes, you could tell it was getting closer and closer so I was trying not to worry about it," Palmer said. "I knew I was going to be here in the morning for the second round, so I wasn't worried about if we had to come back and restart. So I didn't think about it and I just kept hitting shots and sticking to my game plan.
   
"The last putt was a little dark I can say, but I'm glad to be done, and now I can get going in tomorrow's routine. Instead of getting ready for one hole, I can get ready for the whole day. It's going to be a nice night."

Among the players who will be returning to finish their first rounds are Bubba Watson, Spencer Levin and Jason Dufner, who lost last year’s playoff to Mark Wilson. Watson and Levin are 5 under through 15 holes while Dufner has only played 13.

FedExCup leader Johnson Wagner is 3 under through 16 holes. He’s playing with Wilson, who is 1 under, and Brandt Snedeker, who won last week’s Farmers Insurance Open and is even for the day.

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