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U.S., Norwegian teams share lead at Zurich Classic

Apr 10, 2021; Augusta, Georgia, USA; Viktor Hovland plays his shot from the 14th tee during the third round of The Masters golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 10, 2021; Augusta, Georgia, USA; Viktor Hovland plays his shot from the 14th tee during the third round of The Masters golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

The U.S. pair of Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings and the Norwegian pair of Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura share the lead after the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in Avondale, La.

Garnett/Stallings and Hovland/Ventura each shot 10-under-par 62 at TPC Louisiana to open the only team event on the PGA Tour schedule.

Seven teams sit one stroke off the lead: the U.S. pairs of Tony Finau/Cameron Champ, Billy Horschel/Sam Burns and Keegan Bradley/Brendan Steele; South Korea’s Kyoung-Hoon Lee and the United States’ Kyle Stanley; Denmark’s Sebastian Cappelen and the United States’ Mark Hubbard; the Australian pair of Cameron Smith/Marc Leishman; and the South African pair of Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel.

Six more teams are at 8 under.

Hovland and Ventura started slowly, sitting at 1 under par through six holes. However, they wound up with nine birdies and three pars the rest of the way.

Hovland said, “Kris decided to heat up his putter. That really helped. But I felt like we really played solid golf all 18 holes. It was hard to get really close to some of those pins, and that’s where you’ve just got to hit it to 20 feet and you make the putt, then that’s great.

“We basically had two birdie chances on every single hole, and towards the middle to back end of the round, Kris’s putter heated up, and it was cool to watch. We just played really solid golf.”

It was a similar story for Garnett and Stallings. They started on the back nine and were only 2 under through their first seven holes before beginning a string of four consecutive birdies. They wound up with six birdies and no bogeys on the front nine.

Stalling said, “We had a tale of two nines. … It was nice we didn’t birdie the same hole ever, and that’s what you have to do. We did a great job of that today.”

Smith started birdie-eagle, sparking his team’s bogey-free round.

Defending champions Jon Rahm of Spain and Ryan Palmer of the United States are tied for 16th at 7 under. Palmer eagled the par-5 second hole, and the pair added five birdies in a bogey-free round. The duo won the event in 2019, and the tournament was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

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–Field Level Media