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Hovland-Ventura retain share of Zurich Classic lead

Apr 2, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Kris Ventura watches his drive on hole 2 during the second round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Kris Ventura watches his drive on hole 2 during the second round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Norwegian duo of Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura maintained a share of the lead at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Friday in Avondale, La., with a different U.S. pair matching them atop the leaderboard.

Cameron Champ and Tony Finau carded a 4-under-par 68 at TPC Louisiana to pull level with Hovland and Ventura at 13-under 131 through two rounds. Hovland and Ventura shot a 3-under 69 on Friday.

Friday action consisted of alternate-shot foursomes after the teams played a better-ball format on Thursday.

The U.S. duo of Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler, who were 3 under on Friday, are tied for third at 11 under with England’s Justin Rose and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who were 4 under in the second round.

The South African pair of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel (1 under on Friday) and the U.S. pair of Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein (3 under) share fifth place at 10 under.

Australia’s Cameron Smith/Marc Leishman (even on Friday) and the United States’ Jason Kokrak/Pat Perez (2 under) are tied for seventh at 9 under.

Seven teams, including defending champions Jon Rahm of Spain and Ryan Palmer of the United States, are tied for ninth at 8 under.

First-round co-leaders Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings of the United States dropped down to a tie for 16th at 7 under following a 3-over 75.

Hovland and Ventura had their round marred by a double bogey on the par-4 16th hole. They had no bogeys and carded five birdies, including two birdies on their last three holes as they finished on the front nine.

“We just kind of trusted our games,” Hovland said. “We played really solid (Thursday), and we knew, OK, one bad hole, we can birdie the rest of the holes, and we managed to birdie five from there, which was really good today. …

“I thought we did a really good job. Kris is driving it on a string and really far as well, so that makes it easier for me with hitting some iron shots in there. I can be a bit more aggressive, and we managed to birdie a couple of really tough holes out there. It was a good day.”

Cameron and Finau finished with just one bogey, at the par-4 12th hole, against five birdies. They birdied the 18th hole to grab a share of first place.

“We played great (Thursday), but we knew the day, I think, that counted more out of the two days was (Friday),” Finau said. “I was really happy with the way we played. He drove it great, hit some key putts for us on 13 and 14 to keep the momentum in our favor, and yeah, it was a huge round for us.”

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–Field Level Media