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Crane shoots 63, leads by 2 in Memphis

Ben Crane
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Storms forced a stoppage of play Thursday in Memphis, but when play got back on track Ben Crane moved to the top of the standings. Here's how things look after the first day of the FedEx St. Jude Classic, where Crane leads by two with several players still yet to complete their first round:

Leaderboard: Ben Crane (-7), Peter Malnati (-5), Billy Horschel (-5 through 16 holes), Retief Goosen (-4), Joe Durant (-4), Zach Johnson (-4 through 15), Stuart Appleby (-4 through 17)

What it means: A large storm moved across TPC Southwind midway through the day, knocking first-round play behind schedule. Goosen was among the early leaders, finishing before the rains came, but the players in the afternoon wave benefited from a lack of wind. Crane capitalized more than anyone else, as he looks for his first win in nearly three years.

Round of the day: Crane began on the back nine and made the turn in 2 under, then caught fire with three straight birdies on holes 1-3. He added two more circles on Nos. 8 and 9 to close out his round, which marked his lowest score on Tour since a 63 during the second round of the 2012 Humana Challenge.

Best of the rest: Malnati has missed his last four cuts, but appears likely to play the weekend in Memphis after an opening-round 65. Malnati, who will turn 27 next week, made six birdies against just one bogey while hitting 11 of 18 greens in regulation. He looks to improve upon his T-14 finish at the Puerto Rico Open in March, which serves as his best result this season.

Biggest disappointment: Harris English notched his first career PGA Tour win at TPC Southwind a year ago, but his title defense is officially on the ropes after a 3-over 73 in the opening round. English made a double bogey at both No. 16 and No. 18, more than erasing the three birdies he made on the day. He now faces an uphill battle simply to make it past the 36-hole cut.

Main storyline heading into Friday: While Crane certainly has what it takes to win, the main story right now is Phil Mickelson, who rallied to shoot a 3-under 67 in the first round and sits four shots off the pace. Still in search of his first top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, Mickelson will look for some consistency with Friday's round - something that has been sorely lacking for him so far in 2014.

Shot of the day: Appleby ended his day in style, making a hole-in-one on No. 8 from 157 yards with a 7-iron. After the ace, play was called for the day because of darkness, so Appleby will return to play the ninth hole - his 18th - Friday morning.

Quote of the day: "Finishing the round the way I did, that’s exactly what I need to do and some momentum that I need heading into the U.S. Open." - Mickelson, who birdied four of his final seven holes in the opening round.