June 6 (Reuters) - Ben Crane, back in business after overcoming a debilitating back problem, charged to a seven-stroke clubhouse lead in the second round at the weather-plagued FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis on Friday.
Crane was the first to admit he was on the favourable end of the draw, playing in calm weather late Thursday and again early Friday, but that did not detract from the quality of his performance.
"It was a dream round of golf," he told Golf Channel after following an opening 63 with a 65 at the TPC Southwind.
He posted a 12-under 128 halfway total, while compatriots Davis Love III (70) and Billy Horschel (68) were best of the other early starters at five-under.
Less than half the field completed the round before thunderstorms halted play for the second consecutive day.
Phil Mickelson was among those still waiting to tee off mid-afternoon as another band of storms honed in on the course, almost certainly ensuring that the round would spill over into Saturday morning.
Crane, a four-time PGA Tour winner, was forced to pull out of a tournament last August due to back pain.
"I just really didn't see any hope," he said. "I didn't understand why my back was hurting so bad. Found out it was my golf swing."
Crane rehabilitated his body quicker than his game, leaving him languishing 150th on the tour's points list.
But it has all come together and despite a bogey at the final hole, his first blemish all week, Crane was delighted with his performance.
"I'm just so thrilled to be playing well," he said.
"I just kept making putts and giving myself opportunities, and then you don't feel like you have to hit it so close.
"It's certainly the way you want to play golf. The greens are so pure and the hole just opened up.
"We had ideal scoring conditions. The wind laid down for us after the storm yesterday and the greens softened up a bit. Today it was calm this morning." (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry)