Ponte Vedra Beach, FL – Doug LaBelle II carded a 5-under-par 65 on Thursday to lead the first round of the Jacksonville Open, which was suspended due to darkness with nine players left on the course.
Camilo Benedetti, Josh Persons and Russell Henley each recorded a 66 at Dye's Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass to tie for second place. Ten players sit two shots back at 67, including two-time winner Ben Kohles.
"You know this wind, out of the south, I think makes the golf course a little easier than wind out of the north," said Benedetti. "You still have some holes, like 16 and 17 that are into the wind. Seventeen into the wind is kind of a tough hole. But it's playing soft and the greens are still pretty soft right now. As long as you hit the fairways, you can score."
Shawn Stefani, who captured the Miccosukee Championship last week for his second tour win of the season, produced four bogeys and a trio of birdies for a 71.
Champions Tour player Fred Funk, coming off a win last week at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, carded a 74.
LaBelle, a winner of the Utah Championship in July, opened with three straight pars before reeling off three birdies in five holes. After the turn, he birdied No. 2 and later sandwiched a pair of birdies around his lone bogey to reach 5-under.
"I hit a lot of greens and I took advantage of the majority of my opportunities which I think is pretty hard to do on this golf course," said LaBelle. "Of the three greens I did miss, I got two of them up and down. I also left them in places where I could get them up and down."
The first round will resume Friday at 8:30 a.m. (et).
NOTES: Henley and Andy Winings recorded the first two bogey-free rounds in tournament history on Thursday. Winings is part of the group tied for fifth at 3-under...Henley won in a playoff at the Chiquita Classic a few weeks ago and finished third at the Miccosukee Championship last week...Last year, Gavin Coles fired a 64 in the second round, then hung on for a 1-stroke win over Jonas Blixt. Both players are in the field at the PGA event in Georgia this week.