- Associated Press - Thursday, February 2, 2012

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. (AP) - Ryan Palmer parred his final hole at dusk for a 7-under 64 and the lead Thursday in the suspended first round of the Phoenix Open.

The start of the round was delayed an hour because of frost, and play was suspended because of darkness at 6:05 p.m. with 42 players unable to finish. Last year, frost and frozen greens delayed play nine hours during the week, forcing a Monday finish.

“I knew I was going to be here in the morning for the second round, so I wasn’t worried about it if we had to come back and restart,” Palmer said. “So, I didn’t think about it and I just kept hitting shots and sticking to my game plan.”

Webb Simpson was a stroke back on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale.

“It’s one of those courses that just fits your eye well,” said Simpson, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 6.

Palmer switched back to a trusted Odyssey putter model after missing the cuts in his previous starts this year in the Sony Open and Humana Challenge. The three-tour PGA Tour winner made seven birdie putts from 10-15 feet.

“I used the exact same putter the last two years, and of course had two of the best years of my career,” Palmer said. “But toward the end of the year last year, around the BMW, I just got frustrated with not making anything, so I thought I’d try something different, put a similar style head in play and actually had some success.

“But my first two weeks out here I could tell I wasn’t comfortable when I’d get over the short putts. When I got home from Bob Hope (Humana), I pulled it out of the garage and was putting in my living room, then went outside in the backyard on my putting green, and I knew it was time to bring it back out. So it showed today.”

He was 8 under after a birdie on No. 6, but had his lone bogey on No. 7 and parred the final two holes.

Jarrod Lyle, Harrison Frazar, Derek Lamely, Kevin Na and Chez Reavie were two strokes behind at 66, and Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner and Spencer Levin also were 5 under. Watson and Levin had three holes left. Dufner, a playoff loser last year, had five holes remaining.

Kyle Stanley opened with a 69, four days after a devastating loss in the Farmers Insurance Open. On Sunday at Torrey Pines, he made a triple-bogey 8 on the final hole of regulation and lost to Brandt Snedeker in a playoff.

“It was just good to be out there,” Stanley said. “It was almost therapeutic.”

He was 4 under with three holes left, but bogeyed Nos. 7 and 9.

“I hit it decent,” Stanley said. “Hit a couple wedges that didn’t respond the way I thought they were going to, but other than that, I’m pretty pleased.”

He received warm cheers and words of encouragement from the fans.

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