5 Things: Martin breaks course record; Duval shines
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Ben Martin broke the TPC Louisiana course record by two shots in taking a two-shot lead at the Zurich Classic on Thursday.
Martin's 10-under 62 was bogey free and saw him sprint past Andrew Svoboda, who set the early pace with an 8-under 64 that tied the course record.
Here are 5 Things to know from Thursday's first round:
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1. HAVEN'T BEN HERE BEFORE: Ben Martin will take his first PGA Tour lead into the second round on Friday with plenty of momentum, building upon his recent success at the RBC Heritage with a flawless performance on Thursday.
The Clemson product had six front-nine birdies and added four more on the back – even finishing his round with a pedestrian par on the par-5 18th – to post the best round of his PGA Tour career.
Martin's final birdie was his most impressive, chipping in from 55 feet on the par-3 17th after his tee shot came up short of the green.
The South Carolina native was within a shot of the lead on the back nine on Sunday at the RBC Heritage, only to make a mess of the par-5 15th in firing a 4-under 67 to finish T-3 – his second third-place finish of the season.
This is only Martin's 43rd start on the PGA Tour, making the cut in 17 starts to date, with only five (of 14) coming this season.
Martin isn't a stranger to the winner's circle, winning two Web.com Tour titles in 2013 in finishing third on the tour's money list.
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2. WHERE ARE THE BIG BOYS? Zurich's top 10 features only two players that have won on the PGA Tour – Stuart Appleby (9 wins) and Michael Thompson (1 win). Of the top 20 on the leaderboard, only two players are even inside the top 25 in the FedEx Cup standings (Graham DeLaet, Keegan Bradley).
So that begs the question: What big names are lurking?
Nick Watney and Keegan Bradley are the two most recognizable names within striking distance after both opened with 3-under 69s, while Padraig Harrington is one worse after a 70.
2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose opened with a 71, as did Vijay Singh. Meanwhile, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen both posted even-par 72s.
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3. DUVAL SIGHTING: David Duval says that he feels good enough this week that he could win in the Bayou. The former World No. 1 backed up that talk with a 4-under 68 that had him at T-11 to end the round.
Duval also posted a bogey-free round, picking up three birdies on the back nine (his first nine) and securing one more coming in.
Duval has struggled mightily in recent years, making less than $80,000 since the start of the 2012 season, with only six made cuts in 24 events. His last top 10 came in 2011, while his last PGA Tour win was in 2001.
“Two or three years ago, I may have been thinking I could win,” Duval said. “But looking back on it, I wasn’t physically equipped. My game wasn’t good enough. I was a little delusional about how I was playing.
“I’m not delusional about it now, I know how I’m hitting the golf ball and how I’m swinging the club. I feel comfortable. I feel natural again. I feel like the timing is right.”
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4. GOING LOW: Of the 78 players in the morning wave, each completed their first round at par or better after benign conditions in the morning. Leading the charge was Andrew Svoboda, who used a bogey-free, eight-birdie round to post an early 64 and make the field chase the two-time Web.com Tour champion.
Svoboda has missed the cut 21 times in 32 career PGA Tour starts, with only two top-25 finishes to his credit.
Other players to get rolling early were: Peter Hanson (7 under), Erik Compton (6 under), Jeff Overton (5 under) and Stuart Appleby (5 under).
"This is a course that I feel very comfortable on," said Compton. "You have to hit a lot of long iron shots and drive it well here, and those are some of the strengths of my game."
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5. WORK TO DO: Defending champion Billy Horschel will need a low round to just make the weekend on Friday at a 2-over 74 left him at T-114 after the first round. Horschel had two bogeys and a double bogey on his back nine after a clean 1-under 35 at the turn.
But he's not the only big name struggling, as three-time Tour winner Patrick Reed struggled to the same 74, as did Scott Stallings.
Playing well coming into the week, Rickie Fowler (T-5 at Masters) took a step backward with an opening 3-over 75, with Thorbjorn Olesen also struggling to a 75.
After a perfect morning, 55 players posted scores at worse than par.