New putter, no problem
Brian Stuard takes opening-round lead at Zurich Classic
April 28, 2016
By Brian Allee-Walsh, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- April 28, 2016
- Brian Stuard hits his approach shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the Zurich Classic. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
AVONDALE, La. -- Thanks to a new putter and a five-hour rain delay Brian Stuard went to bed Thursday night as the frontrunner at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana. Click here to read the Daily Wrap-Up.
Long, rainy day in Louisiana: Stuard's bogey-free 8-under 64 managed to stand up when play was halted by darkness at 7:32 p.m. First-round play will resume at 8 a.m. Friday and TOUR officials are hopeful that a good day of weather will get the tournament back on track.
Stuard posted birdies at Nos. 1-2-4-7-9-10-13 and 16 over the par 72, 7,425-yard Pete Dye layout en route to his lowest round on TOUR this season, bettering a final round 65 in the Sanderson Farms Championship, one of three made cuts in six events. His round featured a career-low 21 putts due largely to a new flatstick he acquired prior to playing in last week's Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio. Stuard finished tied for 55th there after shooting even-par 288.
Twice, Stuard has finished second on TOUR, both times at the Mayakoba Classic in 2010 and 2014.
"I was using an Odyssey Versa and I just picked up an Odyssey Fang on the putting green over there on Tuesday,'' said Stuard, a 33-year-old Web.com Tour graduate who resides in Fort Worth, Texas. "It felt pretty good after just hitting a few putts with it. So it was like, 'give it a try,' and I putted well last week.''
First-round shot statistics were incomplete because play could not be finished Thursday before darkness set in, but Stuard was stroking it. He made putts totaling 175 feet, six inches, including birdies of 33 and 22 1/2 feet on Nos. 2 and 4 and par saves of 32 1/2 and 20 feet on Nos. 12 and 17.
"I stuck the old putter in the trunk of my car,'' said Stuard, who entered the Zurich Classic ranked No. 513 in the latest Official World Golf Ranking. "This new one might be in the bag for a while.
"It was just one of those days. I felt like I was really reading the greens, seeing the lines, and luckily they were going in.''
Brian Stuard interview after Round 1 of Zurich
It's a family affair: Texas-born Martin Piller may be No. 195 in the latest OWGR after a career best payday and finish at the Valero Texas Open but he's No. 2 in his family and proud of it.
His wife, Gerina, stars on the LPGA Tour and is currently ranked 20th worldwide, in addition to vying for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Summer Olympic team. She also played a major role in our country's historic comeback against Europe to retain the Solheim Cup last September in Germany, finishing with a sparkling 3-0-1 record.
"I have no reservations about it,'' Martin Piller said. "She's had a better career than I have in relation to our peers.
I don't care if she beats me. I only care if guys out here beat me. That's my main concern. If I'm getting whipped up every week out here, OK, now I'm concerned. At the end of the day it all goes to the same bank account for us.''
The Pillers combined to pocket around $350,000 with top 5 finishes at the Valero Texas Open and the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
"Her being in contention wasn't anything new because she does that a lot,'' Martin said. "The only thing that was new was me being in contention. My game has been pretty good all year but as far as being in the mix to win it, it hasn't really happened till now.''
Gerina, 31, remains in the mix for one of four berths on the women's U.S. Olympic team. She currently is No. 4, behind Lexi Thompson (No. 3 in the world), Stacy Lewis (No. 4) and Christie Kerr (No. 16) and slightly ahead of Brittany Lincicome (No. 21).
"We talk about starting a family a lot, but not anytime soon,'' Martin said. "Maybe down the road. Golf is something that could be here a short time and I want to let her play as long as she wants to play. She's almost in the prime of her career, and it's hard to play a whole lot of golf carrying a child in your belly.''
• Delays are nothing new to the Zurich Classic. Thursday's 4 hour, 51-minute rain delay marked the fifth consecutive round dating to last year in which Mother Nature interrupted play. Last year's tournament was subjected to 9 1/2 hours of weather delays, causing eventual champion Justin Rose to play 30 holes on Sunday.
• Nearby LSU is well represented in the Zurich Classic, boasting five former and current players in the field of 156 -- past New Orleans champion David Toms (2001), Smylie Kaufman, Andrew Loupe and current seniors Ben Taylor and Zach Wright, who are playing on sponsor exemptions.
• None of the afternoon wave of 78 was able to complete the first round.
• Rose ended his day at 1-under through six holes, extending his string to 72 consecutive holes without a bogey dating to last season.
Day's incredible birdie, Stuard leads the way
QUOTE OF THE DAYI stuck the old putter in the trunk of my car ... This new one might be in the bag for a while.
CALL OF THE DAY
SOCIAL MEDIA OF THE DAY
Waiting for this rain delay to end like ... pic.twitter.com/wA0kyoBpgo— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 28, 2016