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World No. 37 Marc Leishman and World No. 25 Cameron Smith painted a bogey-free 9-under-par 31-32=63 in Four-Ball action on Day 1 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, currently T3 on the board with play winding down.
The Aussies are teamed together for the first time in NOLA. Smith won the inaugural team event here in 2017 with Jonas Blixt, in a playoff, on 27-under in an unscheduled Monday finish, and the duo returned to missed cuts in 2018 and 2019. Leishman, making his first appearance under the team format, was basically a bystander today, contributing one birdie-4 at 7 (fringe-shot from 11'10") and three pars, while Smith was 8-under on his own ball with an eagle-3 at 2 from 38'0", and six birdies 1, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 18, five of those birdie-3s. Leishman post-round: "I had the pars covered and he had the birdies covered. Yeah, I was there on a couple holes when he made bogey, and likewise, the holes I struggled on he was there. It was great playing with someone who's got a hot putter and putting himself in good positions on pretty much every hole. Yeah, I'll probably buy dinner tonight after that exhibition he put on. I think he's definitely owed that."
Added 7:40 pm (EST)
In Four-Ball action at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, World No. 33 Louis Oosthuizen and World No. 190 Charl Schwartzel enjoyed a bogey-free 9-under-par 32-31=63 in Round 1 to sit T3 on the leaderboard.
The South African teammates join six other tandems that are one swing short of co-leaders Viktor Hovland/Kris Ventura, and Brice Garnett/Scott Stallings. They posted a solo 3rd here two tries ago in 2018 on 20-under total (66-72-62-68), two adrift of champions Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy, undone by a R2 72 in alternate shot. The duo will look to improve on their result in that format tomorrow, and each should feel pretty good about their contributions today. Said afterward by Oosthuizen, "We grew up playing golf in South Africa together and been on teams for junior level and senior level and played Presidents Cup together. So we're very comfortable." Post-round Schwartzel (5 birdies): "Yeah, definitely [tale of two nine today]. I got a lot of opportunities on the front nine, which I converted most, and then Louis made a bunch of birdies on the back nine (4 birdies), so I think in better ball, that's ideal." Each of their scoring conversions were conventional, until the last, where Oosthuizen pitched in for birdie-4 from 33'2" away after rinsing his second in the water right and taking a penalty drop.
Added 7:10 pm (EST)
World No. 461 Nick Watney and World No. 70 Charley Hoffman rode two eagles to an 8-under-par 31-33=64 in the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, currently sitting T10.
Watney won his first of a-now five PGA TOUR titles here in 2007 during his third season on TOUR. Having failed to meet the terms of a Minor Medical Extension with a missed cut at the Shriners (on a sponsor exemption) back in October, he's been playing out of Category 26 in the Priority Rankings, and has missed the cut in 13 straight events. A familiar teammate in Hoffman might just cure what ails him, as the duo is teamed now for a fourth consecutive Zurich. They've produced three made cuts and a pair of top 10s, including a T5 in 2017, the first edition as a team format, and a T9 in the last edition played in 2019. Hoffman, 27th in the FedExCup on check-in, has his fully exempt status secure, so Watney would undoubtedly be the chief beneficiary of a another high finish. Watney, who turns 40 years of age this Sunday (Apr. 25th), got things rolling with an eagle-3 at 2 from 32'3", and also contributed three circles at 4, 10 (25'0") and 11. Hoffman, 44, added his own eagle-3 at 7 (4'6") after a stellar approach from the rough 278 yards away, and birdied 16 and 18, both from between eight and 10 feet. The teammates, who dropped shots at 15 and 17, the latter after both watered their respective tee balls, will head into tomorrow's Foursomes (alternate shot) with Day 1 momentum and a successful history in NOLA on their side.
Added 6:45 pm (EST)
Sebastian Cappelen and Mark Hubbard teamed up to author a bogey-free, 9-under-par 31-32=63 while playing the four-ball format in round one of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, good for a spot just one shot off the early pace set by Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura.
Hubbard and Cappelen made it look easy today as they started on the back nine and bagged five birdies before the turn, all from inside of eight feet. They did provide some putting highlights on their way into the clubhouse, with the next three birdies all knocked home from outside of nine feet. They ended their day with an 11-footer to save par, providing some momentum heading into lunch. How did this pairing come to fruition? "We've been good friends for a while now coming off the Korn Ferry the same year, and our wives are great friends, so we spend a lot of time together on the road. It was pretty natural to partner up for this event." They will look to lean on that friendship dynamic all week and next up is the alternate-shot format for round two.
Added 4:26 pm (EST)
Kyoung-Hoon Lee and Kyle Stanley got off to a strong start at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, twirling a bogey-free, 9-under-par 31-32=63 while playing the four-ball format on day one, just one shot off the early leaders, Kris Ventura and Viktor Hovland.
This duo can catch fire with the irons but they showed off their short games today. The duo combined for nine birdies and five were converted from outside of 10 feet. That included a hole-out from 47 feet for birdie, from Kyle Stanley, at the par-4 13th. "We were just kind of there for each other all day. If I got out of position he kind of bailed me out and vice versa. Nice team effort. We birdied a lot of the same holes." This is their team debut together but both arrived with some good results here at TPC Louisiana. Stanley teamed up with Ryan Ruffels to post a T29 in 2017 and Kyoung-Hoon Lee snagged a T3 in 2019 while playing alongside Matt Every. Next up is a Friday, alternate-shot tee time.
Added 3:56 pm (EST)
Sam Burns caught fire in round one of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, teaming up with Billy Horschel in the four-ball format to collect a bogey-free, 9-under-par 33-30=63, good for a share of second place on the live leaderboard with afternoon action underway.
Horschel is the two-time champ at TPC Louisiana but it was Burns that did the heavy lifting today. He picked off eight birdies on his way around the Pete Dye design, including a trio of long-distance bombs from outside of 20 feet. "I was really excited about having Sam this week is he's a really good putter and he showed it today, that helped because I didn't play bad but I wasn't on top of my game. It was nice to see Sam have a really good round because he's been playing well, so it was nice to see him play really well, and I just made sure I didn't do anything stupid." The four-ball format allowed them to attack but tomorrow they flip to the alternate-shot format where they will likely lean heavily on Horschel's course knowledge.
Added 3:34 pm (EST)
Kris Ventura and Viktor Hovland tossed together a bogey-free, 10-under-par 32-30=62 while playing the four-ball format in round one of the Zurich Classic, good for the early clubhouse lead as the afternoon wave takes to the course.
The Norwegian, Oklahoma State products put on a clinic today with eight of their 10 birdies knocked home from inside of 10 feet. Ventura did dial in a few from long range as the round came to a close, converting from 36'4" (from off the green) at the 15th and then splashing one home from 19'3" for birdie at the following hole. "I think just the mindset overall is just that we know each other pretty well and we're comfortable around each other, so it was going to be a fun day no matter what. Obviously we played well today, but it's always fun to play together, and we don't get to do that very often in a tournament especially. It definitely brings back some memories to national teams in Norway and college golf for sure." Hovland tossed out the idea that they've probably played a couple of hundred rounds together over the years. That comfort should only help as the week goes on, especially tomorrow as they turn their attention to the alternate-shot format. If this lead holds then it'll be the first time either has held a first-round lead or co-lead in a PGA TOUR event.
Added 3:25 pm (EST)
Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele squeezed the most juice possible out of the lemon during four-ball action in round one of the Zurich Classic, carding a bogey-free, 9-under-par 31-32=63 to find themselves just one shot off the torrid pace set by Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura.
This friendly duo got their week started on the 10th tee and Steele carried the load early, scribbling his score on seven of the opening nine holes to make the turn at 4-under. "I was telling Steeley on my way from 18 to 1 or 9th to 10th that I shot about 45 on that side but we shot 4-under as a team. I think that can answer your question who's played better on the front. But we did a great job of ham-and-egging and we shot about the lowest score we could." Bradley pulled his weight on the way into the clubhouse with four birdies on the final eight holes including a pair from the 22-to-24 foot range. These good buddies paired up in the 2017 edition and missed the cut after rounds of 70-68 but they are off to a much better start this time around. Next up will be the alternate-shot format in round two.
Added 2:56 pm (EST)