- SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Tom Lehman knows the difference between chilly and cold.
“Somebody mentioned about playing in Minnesota where I grew up,” Lehman said Thursday after his first round in the frosty Phoenix Open.
“There were some days there where it was so brutally cold that I can tell you, one time in high school, a kid broke his hand, but didn’t know it until the ride home because his hands were numb all day. That’s cold. Today wasn’t there.”
“Once you get playing, you kind of forget about it,” Lehman said. “I started hitting the ball better and better and better as the day went on.”
On Friday, frost delayed play again, pushing the start back to 11 a.m. at the earliest. Only half the field finished the first round Thursday after a four-hour morning delay. The delay Friday will force most of the second round to Saturday, setting up a marathon finish Sunday.
Lehman played the back nine in 5-under 31 to join Bill Haas, Jason Bohn and Tom Gillis atop the leaderboard. The Senior PGA Championship winner last year, Lehman opened the season two weeks ago with a second-place finish in the Champions Tour event at Hualalai. He won the 2000 Phoenix Open for the last of his five PGA Tour titles.
“There’s three rounds to go, but it was a good start,” Lehman said.
The temperature dipped into the mid-20s early Thursday and it was 39 when play started at 11:40 a.m. The high was 47 on a cloudless day in the desert.
“It’s cold,” Haas said. “You’ve got four layers on.”
Lucas Glover, sporting a thick beard that prompted calls of “Grizzly” and “Brian Wilson” from fans, was a stroke back along with Chris Couch and Ben Crane.
“It was cold, and it’s getting colder,” Glover said.
Phil Mickelson, coming off a one-stroke loss to Bubba Watson last week at Torrey Pines in San Diego, topped the group at 67.
“It wasn’t too bad,” said Mickelson, who played his final nine holes in short sleeves. “I expected the golf course to be frozen and balls to be bouncing on the greens quite a ways. It played terrific. The greens were receptive.”
Haas was amazed his playing partner didn’t need another layer on the final nine.
“I don’t know how he was doing it because I didn’t think it was that warm out,” Haas said. “Better than it was in the morning, but it’s still pretty cold.”
Watson, also playing in the group, started play with a ski cap and kept his hands warm with mittens between shots. He shot a 70.
Gillis said it seemed colder than it was around Christmas in Michigan when he played hockey on a lake in 15-degree conditions.
“I was wearing the same stuff and it felt a little colder today,” Gillis said. “Probably because we weren’t moving as much as we were when we were playing hockey. … But it just seemed colder than 15 degrees up there, that’s all I know.”