SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Record crowds had plenty of reason to cheer Thursday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where several big names are on the early leaderboard. Here’s how things look after one round at TPC Scottsdale, where Ryan Palmer leads:
What it means: Palmer contended last week in Palm Springs before fading to a T-10 finish, but he’s again atop the standings after a bogey-free 64. He’ll need to keep up the pace, though, with a pair of major champions among those in close pursuit.
Round of the day: Palmer started quickly, playing his first eight holes in 5 under. He reached 15 of 18 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts, carding an eagle in addition to five birdies, one of which was a deuce on the famed par-3 16th.
Best of the rest: After finishing runner-up last year, Watson began with a 6-under 65 to sit just one shot back. Following a slow start, he did his damage on the back nine, with five birdies in an eight-hole stretch from Nos. 10-17.
Biggest disappointment: Tiger Woods said his chipping woes were behind him, but there was evidence to the contrary in his opening-round 73. Woods was 4 over after four holes and continued to struggle around the greens, leaving him nine shots off the pace and in danger of missing the cut.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rain is expected to be an issue at TPC Scottsdale, where the first round will be completed upon daybreak. Once players hit the course, the man to watch is Watson, who has three straight top-15 finishes here and appears eager to add to that tally.
Shot of the day: Watson hit a low, cutting driver to the par-4 17th and watched as the ball rolled up the green and nearly found the hole for an albatross. While he failed to convert the six-foot eagle try, the Masters champ still gave the crowds plenty of reason to cheer.
Quote of the day: “I’m just having a hard time finding the bottom.” – Woods on the issues with his chipping mechanics.