Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Golf

Barnes leads at PGA's Zurich Classic

AVONDALE, La. — Ricky Barnes said he still owes his newborn daughter a birthday present.

Perhaps a piece of silver would be appropriate.

Barnes birdied six of the last eight holes Thursday at rain-softened TPC Louisiana to take a one-stroke lead at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which awards a silver cup to the winner.

Barnes finished the opening round with an eagle, seven birdies and a bogey for 8-under 64 at the PGA Tour event. Boo Weekley and Lucas Glover were a stroke back, and D.A. Points and Morgan Hoffmann were another shot back at 66.

"It was a pretty stress-free round," said Barnes, who did not arrive in New Orleans until late Wednesday afternoon after the birth of his daughter Monday night. "I think I only had to chip once in 18 holes, so that's nice."

Tianlang Guan, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur who this month became the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters, opened with par 72, highlighted by a 5-wood that he hit to a foot on the par-3 17th.

"I think I played pretty good golf," said Guan, playing on a sponsor exemption. "Not the best, but I made some ups and downs and a couple birdies."

He tied for 58th in the Masters. He said Thursday that he will play in a U.S. Open qualifier in two weeks in Dallas.

Heavy rains that spawned at least two tornadoes in the New Orleans area Wednesday left TPC's normally firm greens soft and defenseless.

Spectators and at least one marshal were startled when an alligator, estimated to be about 12 feet, spent some of the afternoon sunning itself on the left side of the 12th fairway before making his way back to the water through a bunker. Observers said it was "Tripod," a three-legged gator that has become somewhat of a regular at the course.

LPGA: Rookie Caroline Masson shot a bogey-free 7-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead over Carlota Ciganda after the first round of the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout at Irving. Top-ranked Inbee Park was in a group at 67 that included Tampa resident Kristy McPherson. Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (70) was at 1 under. Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (74) was 3 over and Clearwater's Jennifer Gleason (76) 5 over.

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