SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the second consecutive week, the PGA Tour experienced weather issues. Last week, the Pebble Beach Pro Am was called after 54 holes amid dangerous conditions off the Pacific Ocean. This week, the Phoenix Open was delayed for over three hours in Round 1 amid rain at TPC Scottsdale. The atmospheric river continues to make its presence known causing half the field to not finish the first 18 holes on Thursday, which will set up for a busy next three days.
What did take place was compelling, though. Sahith Theegala shot a 6-under 65 to continue his great play at TPC Scottsdale, and Jordan Spieth -- who has also experienced some incredible moments at this golf course -- shot a 3-under 68 to get himself in the mix. Andrew Novak hovered around the lead late in the afternoon and turned in 5 under before play was suspended due to darkness.
Novak will aim to catch or perhaps even pass the man who will sleep on the lead after Day 1. As will Shane Lowry, who felt right at home in the cold, soggy, windy, downright miserable conditions Thursday morning. Lowry stands at 4 under and is among those players who will now have to wait for the afternoon-morning wave to complete their first two rounds before taking to the golf course again.
Let's take a closer look at their rounds as well as what's in store for the next three days in the desert.
1. Sahith Theegala (-6)
Theegala remains hot at TPC Scottsdale. Of the players in the field this week, only Scottie Scheffler, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas and Sungjae Im have a better true strokes gained number at this tournament (minimum 8 rounds played). In two starts here, Theegala has finished T3 and T39, and he looks poised for something closer to the former than the latter this week.
Theegala is electricity. He finished runner up at The Sentry to start the year before missing the cut at the Sony Open and finishing outside the top 50 at the Farmers Insurance Open. He's a bit of a spiritual brethren to Spieth, who is the king of "you never really know what you're going to get."
On Thursday, it was dialed in iron play from Theegala that sent him atop the leaderboard. He led the field from tee to green by a decent margin and now leads everyone who finished their first rounds by at least two shots.
"I love firm and fast conditions, and the last couple years, that's what it was," said Theegala. "Even this year, again, the ground's crew done an incredible job for keeping it relatively firm for how much rain we've gotten, like, the ball was still taking a skip. I think you're going to see that, hopefully, come Sunday it might take a few bigger bounces. It's not going to be what it was last year where it's a cart path ... but some of my favorite conditions all year."
2. Andrew Novak (-5)
3. Shane Lowry, S.H. Kim (-4)
T5. Jordan Spieth, Nick Taylor, Cameron Young (-3)
T8. Matt Fitzpatrick, Hideki Matsuyama, Joel Dahmen and eight others (-2)
I hate to declare it "vintage" because he is just 30 years of age, but Spieth's performance Thursday had it all. Hooping an early birdie from 40 feet on the most difficult hole on the golf course (No. 11) and tacking on another on the par-5 13th, his fourth hole of the day, the three-time major champion enjoyed a dream start. It was too goo to be true.
Spieth laid up into the water on the par-5 15th, got heckled with chants of "overrated" on the par-3 16th and then birdied the 17th before pulling a rabbit out of his hat with another birdie on the 18th. That was just his front nine! He settled into the day on the opening nine at TPC Scottsdale with one circle and eight pars on his card to end his round.
Close but no cigar on 16
Hayden Buckley nearly pulled off one of the greatest 1-2 punches in PGA Tour hole-in-one history. Connecting on an ace at the island par-3 17th in last year's Players Championship, Buckley arrived at the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale late Thursday with a swagger to his step. As if he knew beforehand that he would give his tee shot a chance, the Missouri product nearly spun his ball back into the front pin location, ultimately settling to 2 feet and instead having to settle for a birdie and a barrage of cheers.
2024 Phoenix Open updated odds, picks
Odds via SportsLine consensus
- Scottie Scheffler: 18/5
- Sahith Theegala: 13/2
- Jordan Spieth: 11-1
- Justin Thomas: 14-1
- Cameron Young: 14-1
- Sam Burns: 18-1
- Shane Lowry: 18-1
As much as I love the idea of Spieth pulling this off, it doesn't make much sense to wager on him given we will not see him until late into Friday afternoon. A lot can transpire during this time, and it will give an opportunity to those who still have to finish their first rounds to make a move. One player who I believe can make this happen is Keith Mitchell, who stands at 1 under and is priced at 75-1. He played the easy holes poorly and the more difficult holes effectively and will open his Friday with a 25-foot birdie bid on the 16th. With a short par 4 to follow and an accessible 18th, Mitchell has the chance to get off to a hot start and roll that into a nice run of 29 holes to complete his first two rounds.