Ricky Barnes seizes early advantage in soggy New Orleans

AFP, NEW ORLEANS

Sat, Apr 27, 2013 - Page 18

PGA TOUR

Ricky Barnes had an eagle and seven birdies in an eight-under par 64 on Thursday to seize a one-shot lead in the first round of the US PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Barnes matched a course record at TPC Louisiana, where the water-logged course saw players allowed to lift, clean and place their balls in the fairway.

The American golfer, who has missed the cut in seven of his last nine starts, had a one-shot lead over former US Open champion Lucas Glover and Boo Weekley.

It was a further stroke back to D.A. Points and Morgan Hoffmann on six-under 66, with South African Ernie Els heading a group of 10 players on 67 that also included Australian Matt Jones and Rickie Fowler.

Chinese schoolboy Guan Tianlang, two weeks after a historic Masters debut as the youngest player at Augusta National, carded an even par 72. The teenaged star is playing on a sponsor’s exemption.

Barnes is hoping he can be consistent enough to continue the celebratory tone of the week that began with the birth of daughter Natalie.

“I just haven’t gotten off to good starts in the first couple of days,” Barnes said of his missed cuts this year. “It seems like I’m always just chasing the cut.”

He gained early momentum with an eagle at the par-five second hole, where he drained a 12-foot putt.

A birdie at the fourth was balanced by a bogey at six, but Barnes caught fire on the back nine with six birdies coming home.