Crane, a four-time winner on the U.S. tour but without a title
since 2011, sits alone as the clubhouse leader after darkness halted
play with 60 players still to complete their rounds due to an
earlier storm delay.
Fellow Americans Peter Malnati (65) and Billy Horschel, five-under
through 16 holes, shared second at five-under.
Major winners Retief Goosen (66) and Zach Johnson (15 holes) were
joined by Joe Durant (66), Jason Bohn (14 holes) and Australian
Stuart Appleby (17 holes) in a tie for fourth at four-under.
Phil Mickelson, a runner-up last year, started his tune-up for the
U.S. Open with a solid 67, leaving him in a tie for ninth.
Playing the back nine of TPC Southwind first, Crane started modestly
with birdies on the 11th and 16th holes before making his move at
Three birdies on the trot to start the front side and two to finish
sent the 38-year-old to the top of the pile, unfamiliar ground for
Crane in recent times.
Since a tie for ninth at the Humana Challenge in January, Crane
hasn’t finished better than a tie for 32nd and missed five of his
last seven cuts leading in.
Malnati, a 26-year-old rookie coming off the secondary web.com tour,
was another surprise packet given he has missed the cut on eight of
his 11 appearances on tour this year.
His 65 equaled his career low on tour and was his first round in the
60s since early March in Puerto Rico.
“There have been some negative thoughts bouncing around in my head
for most of the year but in the last couple of weeks I’ve kind of
gotten it turned around,” said the Tennessee resident, who sits
172nd on the FedEx Cup points list.
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“I expected to come out and play well so it was great. I am really
trying hard to really think about just playing golf and having fun.
Mickelson, who will attempt to complete the career grand slam in the
U.S. Open next week was treading water at one-over through 11 holes
before making birdies on four of his last seven to push right into
Given his focus was finishing off rounds after letting them slip in
previous tournaments the 43-year-old was pretty pleased.
“This was what I was hoping for and what I was really hoping to work
on this week,” Mickelson told reporters.
“I had a nice solid round going, not too many birdies, not too many
bogeys but to finish off birdie-ing three of the last four makes it
a great round and it is exactly what I need to do.”
Defending champion Harris English struggled to a 73.
(Reporting by Ben Everill; Editing by Ian Ransom)
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