Y.E. Yang capped a sparkling round with back-to-back birdies as he fired a seven-under 64 to grab a share of the first-round lead at the Phoenix Open on Thursday.
The South Korean, who has not won on the PGA Tour since he beat Tiger Woods at the 2009 PGA Championship, said a couple of mistakes early in the round helped him get focused for the back nine.
“I missed some good shots on the front nine so I was a little angry with myself, but I’ve been playing some solid golf the past four-and-a-half rounds. I think that’s good,” said Yang, who is tied with 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson.
Play had to be suspended because of darkness with 10 players still on the course.
The former major winners were one shot ahead of Harris English, Kevin Stadler, William McGirt, Matt Jones, Chris Kirk, Pat Perez and Greg Chalmers.
A clutch of others, including Hunter Mahan and Keegan Bradley, were tied for 10th at five-under 66.
Yang shot 30 on the back nine, rolling in birdies on five of his final seven holes, including the 17th and 18th.
The 42-year-old began his round with a three-foot birdie putt at the first and got to two-under with another birdie at the third hole. He then three-putted for a bogey on the seventh after parring three straight holes.
That bogey allowed him to make the turn at one-under.
However, Yang, Asia’s first major winner, was just getting warmed up. He charged up the leaderboard on the back nine, getting it going with an 11-foot birdie putt at the 10th.
He then capped three straight birdies from the 12th with a 27-foot putt at the 14th to reach five-under, before back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th launched him into the clubhouse lead.
Watson made just one bogey, while he birdied four of his last six holes to roar into contention.