MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ben Crane's back is OK, and his putter couldn't be working much better.
The combination helped him shoot a 5-under 65 on Friday to open a six-stroke lead in the St. Jude Classic before heavy rain delayed play twice and forced the suspension of play for the day.
Crane birdied his final hole Thursday night for a 63 and rolled in a 44-footer for birdie to start the second round Friday morning. He had a 12-under 128 total at TPC Southwind, matching the winning score in relation to par last year.
"I certainly didn't see this coming," Crane said. "But you know when you're putting well, I started to feel like I was a little more in control of my ball, just felt like I was tightening my draws and fades a little bit. I had access to some holes I haven't this year and so gosh, it's been an incredible two days."
Crane has spent the past six months changing his swing to protect his back. A four-time PGA Tour winner, Crane's last win came in 2011 at the McGladrey Classic and his best finish this year was a tie for ninth in the Humana Challenge in January. But he was in such pain he had a therapist with him for treatment during the round.
"It's been a really, really hard year, racking my brain what's going on, what's going wrong and have I changed that much," Crane said. "You start wondering, 'Am I going to get it back.' So this is super encouraging. My wife said last night, 'looks like you still got it.' Because you wonder. But anyway, it's been a fun start."
Carl Pettersson and Jason Bohn were tied for second at 6 under. Pettersson had one hole left, and Bohn had two to play. Davis Love III (70) and Billy Horschel (68) were in at 5 under.
Phil Mickelson and Retief Goosen were unable to start the second round. Mickelson, winless in his last 19 events since the British Open, opened with a 67 on Thursday, and Goosen had a 66.
Friday got off to a slow start with 60 players needing to wrap up the first round with the second started 40 minutes later.
Lightning delayed play at 1:03 for 59 minutes before play resumed for 13 minutes. Mickelson had just gotten to the tee when the horn blew again. Fans were sent home before a severe thunderstorm drenched the course, filling bunkers, fairways and cart paths with water.