Los Angeles - The team of Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith fired two eagles and six birdies en route to a 62 in the better ball second round of the Zurich Classic on Friday, taking a one-shot lead in the US PGA Tour event.
"I think just having a backup, playing a little more
aggressively," Australia's Smith said of the key to their success at TPC
Louisiana in New Orleans, which left them on 15-under 129.
"And Jonas is putting really good, chipping really
good," Smith added of his Swedish partner, "so you always know he's
going to get up and down for par, so just shooting the pins and it all came off
Americans Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay also carded a 62
and were one back on 130.
Some of the biggest names in the tournament, however, won't
be around for the weekend. Australian Jason Day and US teammate Rickie Fowler
missed the cut, as did England's Justin Rose and Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who
teamed up after taking gold and silver at the Rio Olympics last year.
The Korean duo of KJ Choi and Charlie Wi carded a second-round 64 to share third place on 131 with Americans Troy Merri and Robert Streb, who carded one of the morning's five 10-under rounds of 62.
Former world number one Jordan Spieth and fellow Texan Ryan
Palmer posted their second straight 66 to join a group three off the pace on
The event shifted to a team format this year, with 80
two-man teams playing alternate shot in the first and third rounds and better
ball in the second and final rounds.
It's the first official team tournament on the PGA Tour
High winds saw few afternoon starters threaten the top of
Blixt and Smith showed what could be accomplished in the
more benign morning conditions in the better ball format, in which each man
plays his own ball with the best score for each team recorded.
They went into the round one shot off the lead. Teeing off
on 10 they made four birdies before the turn. Coming in, Smith eagled from 31
feet at the par-five second hole. At the seventh it was Blixt's turn to nab an
eagle from 27 feet.
Reed and Cantlay combined for 10 birdies, while Choi and Wi
had four birdies on each side in their eight-under effort.
Fowler and Day, meanwhile, had just four birdies on Friday.
"It wasn't like we played bad golf," Fowler said.
"We just didn't make enough birdies."
Rose said he and Stenson just didn't make enough of the
par-five holes. They arrived at the par-five 18th needing a birdie to make the
cut, but both found the water.
"Summed up our week on the par-fives," Rose said.
Leading scores after Friday's better ball second round of the PGA Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a two-man team event with alternate shot play in rounds one and three and better ball play in rounds two and four (USA unless noted):
129 - Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith (SWE/AUS) 67-62
130 - Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay 68-62
131 - KJ Choi/Charlie Wi (KOR/KOR) 67-64, Troy Merrit/Robert Streb 69-62
132 - Brian Stuard/Chris Stroud 68-64, Alex Cjeka/Soren Kjeldsen (GER/DEN) 70-62, Charley Hoffman/Nick Watney 67-65, Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer 66-66, Xander Schauffele/Tag Ridings 68-64, Kyle Stanley-Ryan Ruffels (USA/AUS) 66-66
133 - Angel Cabrera/Julian Etulain (ARG/ARG) 70-63, Tyrone Van Aswegen/Retief Goosen (RSA/RSA) 73-60, Jason Dufner/Patton Kizzire 69-64