Ricky Barnes is hoping to add his first TOUR win to an already memorable week. (Graythen/Getty Images)
By Brian Allee-Walsh, PGATOUR.COM correspondent
AVONDALE, La. -- If the rest of this week plays out like the first four days, Ricky Barnes might just end up with his first victory on the PGA TOUR.
Late Monday afternoon in Phoenix, Barnes's wife, Suzanne, gave birth to their second child, Natalie. And Thursday morning, Barnes tied a course record at soggy TPC Louisiana with an 8-under 64 to grab the early lead in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
It marked his best round on TOUR this season and put him in excellent position to do something he rarely has done in 2013 -- play on the weekend.
Coming into New Orleans, Barnes missed seven cuts in his last nine tournaments after posting consecutive top-20 finishes to open the season.
"I just haven't gotten off to good starts in the first couple of days,'' said Barnes, whose best finish on TOUR came in the 2009 U.S. Open when he tied for second. "It seems like I'm always just chasing the cut.''
Benefiting from lift, clean and place rules after torrential rains Wednesday, Barnes carded one eagle, seven birdies (six on the backside, including Nos. 13 through 16) and one bogey to become the seventh player to post a 64 on the 7,341-yard Pete Dye layout.
An eagle on No. 2, a 552-yard par 5 (driver, 3-wood, 12-foot putt) got his round rolling and he closed with a birdie on No. 18, a 569-yard par 5. In all, he finished 4 under on the par 5s.
He hit all 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. Entering the Zurich Classic, he ranked 151st on TOUR in fairways hit, a shade under 56 percent. In 25 previous rounds, he averaged 71.54 strokes, 138th on TOUR.
Barnes credited extra work with his swing coach, Dean Reinmuth, and sports psychologist, Neale Smith, and a "good swing thought'' for Thursday's surprising round. He has missed the cut in three previous stops in New Orleans, two at TPC Louisiana (2009 and 2012) and once at English Turn Golf & Country Club (2004).
"At the end of the day, if you give us ball in hand out here we're going to have a chance to go low,'' said Barnes, 32. "I knew you could attack the pins this morning because of the soft greens. But if you asked me if I thought I would tie a course record, no, I didn't think that when we went out this morning.
"But I've been working my (butt) off and it showed today. It was nice to go out and play a good round. I knew I had some good golf in me, but until you go out and actually shoot it, no one will believe you.''