COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It's a good thing that Trevor Murphy only had to put down "how many" strokes he took in the opening round of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational on Thursday instead of describing "how" each hole was played. Murphy sprayed the ball all over the famed Scarlet Course at Ohio State University, but somehow managed to shoot an 8-under 63 and take a three-stroke lead over James Sacheck (66) in the weather-delayed Web.com Tour event.
"It was just a strange day. I've shot even or over par and hit it better than I did today," said Murphy after hitting only five of 14 fairways. "I missed it in the right spots off the tee where I could hit a shot around some trees and get it up on the green and make a putt. My wedges were great. When I did hit the fairway I hit it pretty close. And putting, I made so many putts."
Murphy got good breaks and bad breaks, hit out of and over the trees, played one hole down the wrong fairway on purpose, made long putts but missed short ones, hit the flagstick with an 8-iron shot, holed out from a bunker and chipped in on the final hole for birdie.
"It was crazy," he said, still somewhat baffled on how he did what he did with 23 putts. "If you had put a ball down on every hole where I hit my tee shot and asked me what score I thought I could make from there, I would have hoped to make par or bogey on a bunch of them."
Instead, Murphy got up and down from everywhere en route to the clubhouse lead in the tournament that features the second-biggest purse on Tour.
"I still have a lot of golf left to play," he said. "I can't pull out any more 8 unders from where I hit it today. I'm convinced that could never happen again."
Heavy thunderstorms rolled through central Ohio mid-afternoon and suspended play at 3:36 p.m. with half the field still on the golf course. Wind gusts in the area were in the 40-60 mph range. Rain gauges filled up with more than an inch and a half of water and estimates are that more than a thousand lightning strikes were registered within a 15-mile radius of the course.
After the storm passed and officials had a chance to assess the course conditions, play was called for the day at 5:45 p.m.
When round one resumes Friday morning at 7:30, the other half of the field of 144 players will be chasing the 27-year old Murphy, who fired a 9-under 62 two weeks ago at the Utah Championship and lost a playoff five days ago at the Waterloo (IA) Open.
Murphy is making only his second start of the 2012 Web.com Tour season after losing his card last year when he finished No. 102 on the money list.
"Last year I had a great opportunity to play out here and I wasn't playing well," he said. "I wasn't enjoying it like I should have."
Maybe he should have just come back to Columbus. Two years ago in his rookie season, Murphy enjoyed his still-career best finish when he tied for seventh in this event. It was also during that week that he fired a 14-under-par 56 on the adjacent Gray Course during a Monday Pro-Am.
"I don't know what's in the water here," Murphy said with a chuckle.
Michael Putnam, Steve Allan and Aron Price are currently tied for third after posting 4-under 67s. Robert Streb is also 4 under through seven holes.
Six players shot 3-under 68s including Utah Championship winner Doug LaBelle, Casey Wittenberg, the Tour's only two-time victor this year, and Sam Saunders.
--This is the fourth straight year that thunderstorms have affected play in this event.
--Trevor Murphy's 8-under 63 matches the tournament record set by Jonathan Kaye in the opening round last year and tied by James Sacheck in the third round.