AVONDALE, La. (AP) — Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele make a good team even when playing for money and not just for a flag.
Cantlay made a 25-foot eagle putt early and contributed from 40 feet for a late birdie, while Schauffele contributed six birdies, and their three consecutive birdies to close gave them a 13-under 59 in four balls on Thursday to lead the Zurich Classic in New Orleans.
He set a tournament record since the Zurich Classic switched to team play in 2017, and the partners of the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup were ready to claim part of golf’s magic number.
“I’ve never done it before. I don’t think Pat did either. I will count in my book,” Schauffele said.
They had a one shot lead over the team of Matthew NeSmith and Taylor Moore. The group at 61 included Robert Garrigus and Tommy Gainey, as well as Aaron Rai and David Lipsky, two teams that have had their fair share of off-course activity.
Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Ryan Palmer were five strokes behind at 64.
The second round moves to foursomes, and although the alternate format is the toughest of the format, Cantlay and Schauffele have established a 4-0 mark in their partnerships at the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne and the 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
“It’s only the first quarter. We only have one lead,” Cantlay said. “But we’re going into a Friday format that we really like – I think Alex and I like Alternate fire really is one of our strengths for the week, and we’re really looking forward to it.
Moore was blessed with a lot of strength at all
He was in the emergency room Wednesday morning with food poisoning, received fluids and medication for nausea, and was finally able to keep food down Thursday morning.
“I just tried to finish every hole,” Moore said. “It was kind of a victory in itself.”
Lipsky avoided hospital, despite being involved in a car accident earlier in the week. Turns out there was a car in front of him that had broken down, and as Lipsky was about to change lanes, he said the driver behind him braked and hit him.
“I’m fine. I think the other two riders were fine,” Lipsky said. “Yeah, I was a bit restless at the start of the week.”
The surprise was Garrigus and Gainey, both exempt from sponsors, joining the band at 61. Garrigus was in the news earlier in the week when Golfweek reported and Golf Channel confirmed with Garrigus that he was applying for a contentious event exit to play in the Saudi premier. – LIV golf competition financed by the LIV.
The PGA Tour has until May 10 to decide whether or not to grant him a release to play in London a week before the US Open. Top players – that wouldn’t include Garrigus, whose world ranking is No. 1,043 – said they weren’t interested in the league led by Greg Norman offering a $20m purse and $4m dollars to the winner.
Garrigus told Golf Channel that his focus was purely on the Zurich Classic, and a lot of focus seemed to be in place. Gainey contributed six birdies, while Garrigus had five.
That was the trick on a windy day at TPC Louisiane, with both players contributing. Cantlay and Schauffele – who vacationed together when not representing their country in the cups – were extremely effective on the greens.
Only three of their sub-par 11 holes came from putts under 10 feet.
“We played really well, putted a lot today on a day that was a little tough with the wind and we didn’t birdie a lot on the same holes,” Cantlay said. “When you do that in this format, that’s really key.”
Equally impressive was the father-son duo of Jay and Bill Haas. The 68-year-old father had four of their seven birdies, including three in the 15-foot range, in their 65.
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