Upshot: Martin sets course record at Zurich Classic
The 26-year-old cards a bogey-free 62 to take a two-shot lead
April 24, 2014
By D.J. Piehowski, PGATOUR.COM
- Ben Martin, 26, will attempt to become just the fifth first-round leader to win this season on TOUR. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
AVONDALE, La. -- Ben Martin’s first course record was earned in pretty stress-free conditions: It was a non-competitive 62 at his home course, Greenwood (S.C.) Country Club. He earned his second Thursday at windy TPC Louisiana and was rewarded with the first-round lead at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
“I think back, and that round and this round were two of the best rounds I’ve ever played,” said Martin, whose 62 bettered the course record by two shots. “It was everything. The shots were going where I was looking and the putts were going in just like I was seeing them.”
It’s a strange run of golf that Martin is on. In his last nine starts, he’s made just two cuts but finished third both times (at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com and last week’s RBC Heritage). Thursday’s 62 was the best round of Martin’s PGA TOUR career by three shots.
After a number of low scores were posted in the morning wave, TPC Louisiana’s winds kicked up in the afternoon. It was a familiar feel for Martin, who played his way into the final group Saturday at windy Harbour Town.
“I hate the cliché, ‘One shot at a time,’ but when it gets windy like that, that’s really what you have to focus on,” he said. “We played in the wind every day last week, so I was probably a little bit used to it.”
The bad news for Martin is that just four of 22 first-round leaders have gone on to victory this year on the PGA TOUR. But the good news is that he fits another trend: Six of the past nine winners of the event have been first-time PGA TOUR winners.
“I don’t know what causes that,” he said. “I know that for myself, I like most Pete Dye courses. We played one last week and I was successful there. I guess whatever he does kind of fits my eye.”
ROUND 1 VIDEO
Ben Martin holes out to reach 10 under
Michael Thompson started his college career at nearby Tulane, but he wouldn’t call himself a TPC Louisiana expert.
Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, just before Thompson and the Green Wave were getting ready to start practicing. The team was relocated to Dallas and Thompson transferred to Alabama shortly after.
“I haven’t played here much, but I’m starting to get more comfortable playing this course,” he said after an opening 66 that left him in a tie for fifth. “At first, I thought it was a really long, big course and I felt like I had to overpower everything, but I’m starting to play more within myself and when I do that, I have rounds like today.”
As far as his golf game goes, Thompson said the storm and his ensuing transfer was a blessing in disguise.
“I loved New Orleans, being in the city and always having a lot to do,” he said. “But I’ve always told everybody that if I would have stayed at Tulane, I probably wouldn’t have developed into the golfer that I am today as quickly. Transferring to Alabama was great for me.”
Category Leader Stat Field average Driving Distance Dustin Morris 325.0 287.1 Fairways hit Ben Curtis, Billy Hurley III
13 62.20% Greens in regulation Will Wilcox 17 67.20% Proximity to the hole
Erik Compton 20'-10" 35'-10" Strokes gained-putting Ben Martin
CALL OF THE DAY
Will Haskett calls Andrew Svoboda's birdie at No. 18 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
ODDS AND ENDS
Former World No. 1 David Duval opened with 68, his first bogey-free round since Round 1 of the 2012 John Deere Classic. Duval had some interesting comments after his round about the past few years and how he’s been preparing. Read more here … Peter Hanson (7-under 65) holed out for eagle from 184 yards at the difficult par-4 sixth. He hit the shot with a 6-iron, the same club with which he made a hole-in-one last week at Lake Nona in Orlando. … Troubling news for Ben Martin: Only four of 22 first-round leaders have gone on to win this season on the PGA TOUR. Matt Kuchar was the most recent to do it, winning last week at the RBC Heritage. … Defending champion Billy Horschel opened with a 2-over 74.
Tough day today. Tempo was off . Was hanging tough until 16. New day tomorrow. Hopefully the wind will be calm and the birdies will flow— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) April 24, 2014
THEY SAID IT
“I hit hybrid and just flagged it, but it landed short. I told my caddie after that I had to take aim because that was for 59, but I didn’t think about (59) until after I hit the shot.” – Ben Martin on his 250-yard second shot at the par-5 18th hole.
“I wasn’t physically equipped. My game wasn’t good enough. I was a little delusional about how I was playing.” – David Duval on his game the past two to three years.
“The first question when I got off the golf course was not a golf question, so that’s usual. I think it will change once I win a tournament, but I haven’t proven myself as being a top player out here.” – Erik Compton (66), on the amount he’s asked about his two heart transplants versus his golf.
“At No. 9, I told my caddie, give me the 6. It normally goes in.” -- Peter Hanson, who’s made an ace and a hole-out eagle with the club in the past week.
“He totally revamped my swing in 2006, changed everything. I owe a lot of my success to him for sure.” – Andrew Svoboda (64), on New Orleans-based instructor Carl Rabito.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Graham DeLaet was in good spirits after an opening 69 and decided to take advantage of the selfie mirrors that the Zurich Classic has placed around the course.