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The Journal Gazette

Friday, February 02, 2018 1:00 am

Golf

Phoenix Open leaders' fate turns on 16th hole

Associated Press

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Bill Haas' 9-iron landed to the right of the pin and spun left, settling 3 feet away for a birdie on the par-3 16th in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“I just tried to play the hole like I would any other hole, even though it's not like any other hole,” Haas said about the stadium hole that was packed with 20,000 fans on the warm Thursday afternoon.

Haas shot a 7-under 64 at TPC Scottsdale to take a two-stroke lead. The birdie on 16 capped a five-hole stretch he played in 5 under, with birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 and a 20-footer for eagle on the par-5 15th.

“Once you get a cushion like that, you can free your swing up a little bit,” Haas said.

The 16th, playing 151 yards to a front pin, tripped up Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas. Fowler bogeyed it in a 66 that left him tied with Billy Horschel, Bryson DeChambeau, Chris Kirk and Chesson Hadley. Thomas made a double bogey in a 68.

Former Arizona State star Jon Rahm, the No. 2-ranked player in the world, was at 67 in a group that included Bubba Watson.

EUROPEAN: In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Chris Paisley shot a 7-under 65 to take a one-shot clubhouse lead over David Horsey after a weather-interrupted first round at the Maybank Championship.

Play was suspended for almost two hours due to the threat of storms and 40 players will need to return today to complete their rounds. 

Henrik Stenson, the 2016 British Open champion, was well down the field at 72. Haotong Li, who won the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, fared even worse as he slumped to a 74.