Bob Tway, Kirk Triplett, Paul Stankowski, Steve Pate and Andy Miller shared the lead at 5-under-par 67 before a surprise Sierra thunderstorm suspended first-round play Thursday at the Reno-Tahoe Open.
Luke Donald, J.P. Hayes, Dennis Paulson and Cameron Beckman were a stroke back at 68, but more than half the field was unable to complete the round at the 7,472-yard, par-72 Montreux Golf&Country Club.
Tway, 44, who won the PGA Championship in 1986 but hasn't won on the PGA Tour since 1995, sank a 50-foot birdie putt on the 584-yard, par-5 No. 11 and made another from 20 feet on the 429-yard, par-4 18th.
He said he's been around long enough to know that good putting is important, but first-round leads are not.
"It's always nice to shoot a good round but it means nothing. We've got way too much golf left to screw up a good start," Tway said. "The scores are usually pretty good here. You still don't know what is going to happen."
Triplett, who played his college golf at the University of Nevada, Reno, had one bogey and six birdies, including a 12-foot putt after he hit the flag with his 7-iron off the tee on the 163-yard, par-3 No. 16.
"I'm thrilled," said Triplett, who has four top 10 finishes this year, but missed the cut two weeks ago at the International then withdrew from the PGA Championship last week with a back injury.
"I don't want to say I've been playing awful, but I have," he said. "I think I hurt my back because I was swinging so bad."
Miller, the son of Johnny Miller, had five birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. He hit his second shot wide left into the rough on his final hole, the 616-yard, par-5 No. 9, but hit a wedge 92 yards to within seven feet and made the birdie to join the leaders at 5-under just before the second rain delay of the day caused play to be suspended for good at 5 p.m. (PDT).
"I hit it great today, what can I say?" said Miller, 25, who had his best career finish with a tie for 31st last month at the B.C. Open.
"I hit every single fairway and really only had one three-putt hiccup,” he said.
First-round play was set to resume at 8 a.m. Friday, with the second round to follow.
Stankowski, who has been recovering from wrist surgery, made birdie putts of 15 feet and four feet on the first two holes in only his second tournament since May.
"It's so good to be back out," said Stankowksi, who made a premature return at the Western Open in July and had to withdraw because of pain.
"I didn't know if I'd remember how to play after being off so long. ... but I birdied the first two holes and that pretty much got me going," he said.
Pate figured he was headed for a double bogey when he drove the ball into the sage brush on the opening hole. But his ball ended up on a cart path, so he got a free drop and hit an 8-iron off the bare dirt to within 20 feet for a birdie.
"I was real lucky," he said. "I've been doing a lot of stuff real well for a couple of months."
Tway, 44, had five birdies on the day, hitting approach shots to within 10 feet of the pin and making the putts on the par-4 No. 7, par-5 No. 9 and par-4 No. 13. He ranks 37th on the PGA money list this year with a career-best $1.25 million, bringing his career earnings to $10.75 million. He's won seven times in his career, including four victories in 1986 when he won the PGA.
The nearly 1 inch of rain that fell in five hours came as a surprise in Reno, which averages only 8 inches of precipitation a year and hardly any in the summer.
Course superintendent Doug Heinrichs said it was the hardest it has rained in the five years he has been at Montreux.
"We used our squeegees for the first time ever. We had to round up some extra ones up from a neighboring course," Heinrichs said.
"They (PGA officials) want us to have 12 on site. We laugh at the idea - until now."
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