James Hahn shoots 65 to take Phoenix Open lead
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — James Hahn shot a bogey-free 6-under 65 in breezy conditions Friday to take the lead in the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Hahn had a 10-under 132 total on TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course to enter the weekend a stroke ahead of Rickie Fowler and Danny Lee. Fowler birdied his final hole for a 68, and Lee had a 66.
"I'm having fun out there," Hahn said. "Making a lot of putts, hitting a lot of fairways, giving myself many opportunities to make birdie."
An estimated 160,415 fans, not counting a large bobcat that sauntered between the first and second holes in the afternoon, packed the grounds. The crowd broke the Friday record of 123,674 set in 2014 and was the 10th-largest figure for any day in tournament history.
Hahn is at home at golf biggest party, becoming an internet sensation in 2013 when he celebrated a birdie on the rowdy par-3 16th with a "Gangnam Style" dance. He won his first PGA Tour title last year in a playoff at Riviera.
"It's the one week out of the year where you're allowed to do anything you want and not get fined," Hahn said. "It's good for golf, good for the game, good for the fans that come out here. They support the golf tournament, so might as well give them a show."
Hahn opened with a chip-in birdie on the par-4 10th and birdied the two back-nine par 5s, making a 30-footer on the 13th and hitting a wedge to 7 feet on the 15th. On his final nine, he hit a wedge to 3 feet to set up a birdie on the par-4 second, chipped to 3 feet for another birdie on the par-5 third, and took the outright lead with a 10-footer on the par-4 sixth.
"Sleeping in my own bed this week, live about 10 minutes away," Hahn said. "I have played this course a hundred times. The only thing different about the course today, as any other day, is the greens are better."
Fowler rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the short par-4 17th with the birdie on the par-4 18th. A day after driving into the left-side water, he hammered a fairway wood down the middle and — with music thumping in the background — hit his approach to 4 feet.
"It wasn't playing easy," Fowler said. "The wind was kind of blowing from an awkward position. ... Just tried to stay patient, fight through it."
The top-ranked player in the field at No. 4, Fowler has four worldwide victories in the last nine months. He missed the cut last week at Torrey Pines after winning in Abu Dhabi the previous week.
Lee birdied five of his first eight holes, highlighted by a 20-footer on the stadium 16th. The South Korean-born New Zealander won the Greenbrier Classic last year for his first tour title.
"Wind was definitely in play today," Lee said. "It was a little bit different than yesterday. The greens being so firm, you're kind of forced to hit driver. You want to hit a shorter club on the second shot."
Harris English (67), Shane Lowry (70) and Hideki Matsuyama (70) were 7 under.
Keegan Bradley, penalized two strokes Thursday for having too many clubs in his bag, was 5 under after a 69. Bradley and caddie Steve Hale didn't notice the extra club until after the first hole in the first round.
Bubba Watson shot his second straight 69. Two days after criticizing the renovated course and saying he was only playing the tournament out of loyalty to his sponsors, he apologized.
"I used the wrong words," Watson said. "I have nothing against the fans and the tournament. The fans have been great. I love coming here. I've lived here every winter for eight years. This is a beautiful place. ... I didn't explain myself well. My wife says that, too, when I go home. I don't communicate very well."
The two-time Masters champion tied for second the last two years and has shot par or better in all 36 of his career rounds in the event, playing to a cumulative 97 under.
Phil Mickelson was 2 under after a 71. The 45-year-old former Arizona State player bogeyed Nos. 14 and 15, hitting a hybrid approach into the water on 15.
"That kind of let the round get away," said Mickelson, the tournament winner in 1996, 2005 and 2013. "I'm looking forward to having another shot at this golf course tomorrow."
DIVOTS: Four players were unable to complete the round because of darkness, with Bo Van Pelt the best of group at 5 under with two holes left. ... Brandt Snedeker, the winner Monday at Torrey Pines, was 4 under after a 71. ... Jason Dufner shot 71-74 to miss the cut in his first start since winning at La Quinta.