Rain Darkness Postpone Players

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Round 1 goes to the winds and rain which lashed the TPC at Sawgrass Thursday. A downpour in mid-morning caused a 2 -hour delay in play. When the players went back out, 46-year-old Scott Hoch, Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco were the leaders when darkness set in around 6:30 p.m. ET, standing at 5-under-par.
 
Both Hoch and DiMarco were through 12 holes, Mickelson through 11.
 
Hoch eagled the par-5 11th, his second hole of the day, after opening with a bogey on No. 10. He proceeded to birdie the two other par-5s and throw in birdies at the par-4 12th and the par-3 17th.
 
DiMarco also eagled the par-5 11th en route to his 5-under. Mickelson carded five birdies without a bogey in his 11 holes.
 
Obviously, I didnt start out very well, Hoch said of his slip at the start. I hit into a fairway bunker and hit a good shot out, but I three-putted from 35-40 feet.
 
The next hole, though, I hit a 3-wood to about 20 feet and made the putt for eagle. So thats a quick bounce-back, as the PGA Tour says in its stats.
 
Four players were tied at 4-under, 22-year-old David Gossett, 44-year-old Nick Faldo, Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker.
 
I really hit the ball well, said Hoch, who has finished 13th or better since the Tour started growing the rough at this tournament in 1997. I felt like Tiger on the par-5s. I hit the 3-wood on 11, I hit 6-iron into the green on 16 and I hit a 5-wood on No. 2.
 
A six-way tie developed for those who finished. Robert Allenby, Jeff Sluman, Mark Calcavecchia, David Toms, Steve Lowery and Stuart Appleby deadlocked with 3-under 69s. Among those who didnt finish was Tiger Woods, who stands at 1-under through 14 holes. Sluman said all the leaders were pleased with their scores, despite the fact that no one had a sparkling round with a 65 or 66.
 
Anytime you play the TPC and your score starts with a 6, youve got to be happy, he said. This golf course tests your patience, tests your nerves. Its a complete test of golf out there, especially with the wind and that.
 
Long hitters and short hitters shared the spotlight. It didnt matter how far you hit it with the damp fairways, only that you hit it straight.
 
The fairways didnt affect us, said Sluman. They actually held up reasonably well. There was no mud on the ball when we restarted ... I was kind of surprised because I thought wed have a lot of, kind of mud balls in the afternoon, as hard as it rained.
 
Appleby had the most up-and-down day. He had seven birdies. But two bogeys on the front, coupled with a double-bogey 5 after a water ball on 17, contributed to his 3-under score.
 
Woods never really got on track. His only birdies came on two of the par-5s, No. 2 and No. 16, but he suffered a bogey on the par-5 fifth ' he started on the back nine.
 
'It wasn't that frustrating - but today is a day you just want to keep hanging in there,' Woods said. 'The conditions were not exactly easy and they became easier towards the end.
 
'Under par under these conditions, you've got to be pleased about it beacuse it's a long way to go.'
 
Play was scheduled to resume at 7:50 a.m. ET Friday for the completion of the first round. Seventy-four of the 148 men in the field still have to finish their rounds. The second round is to begin an hour later. The weather forecast calls for no more rain, but cooler temperatures dipping into the lower 60s.
 
Full-field scores from The Players Championship