Bart Bryant Bart Bryant clubhouse leader in suspended PODS Championship at Copperhead

Weather was the dominant force in Thursday's first round of the PODS Championship, as a nearly three-hour storm delay eventually led to the tournament being suspended by darkness with 72 players left on the course.

The first round was slated to resume at 7:30 a.m. EST Friday at the Westin Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course. The second round is scheduled to start at 8:45 a.m. Friday in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Bart Bryant shot a 6-under 65 to take the clubhouse lead. He's one stroke ahead of Kenny Perry, Jeff Maggert, Stewart Cink and Lee Janzen, who still has three holes to play to finish his round.

Tom Pernice Jr., Jonathan Byrd, Carl Pettersson, John Senden, Stuart Appleby and Nicholas Thompson were all tied for sixth at 4 under. Of that group, only Pernice, Byrd and Pettersson had completed their rounds.

A three-time PGA Tour winner, Bryant has made the cut in four of five starts this season. His tie for 16th at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic marked his best outing.

Better health has been the key, Bryant said. Last year, he had to take two months off due to a hip injury — only to have his practice time severely limited due to an elbow injury once he returned.

"No practice, just playing," the 45-year-old Bryant told reporters last year. "This year, I've been able to start hitting balls. My health has been good."

If Bryant's lead holds up when the first round is completed on Friday, it would represent the fourth time in his career he has held the first-round lead. The others came at the 1996 Sprint International, where he eventually tied for 54th, the 2005 Tour Championship (won) and the 2006 Bay Hill Invitational (tied for 20th).

Bryant said he was pleased to make it through the first six holes at even par. He then birdied four of the next five holes.

"I felt like I got my bad stuff out of the way and I was still even par," Bryant said. "I think that gave me a little confidence."

Bryant followed with a fifth birdie at No. 16, then sank a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to cap his bogey-free round.

History hasn't been kind to first-round leaders of the PODS Championship. Since the inaugural event in 2000, the first-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win just once in seven attempts, with K.J. Choi the only first-round leader to win, back in 2002.

Dudley Hart withdrew prior to the start of the first round with a shoulder injury. Also, Kevin Na had to withdraw following his opening round of 76 with flu-like symptoms.

The only tournaments previously affected by weather delays this season were the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic (15-minute frost delay prior to the third round) and the FBR Open (frost delays each of the first three rounds). The last weather-related suspension at the PODS Championship came during the second round in 2002, when lightning suspended play.

March 7, 2008

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