Martin maintains lead at Zurich through Round 2


AVONDALE, La. – Ben Martin shot a 5-under 67 Friday to extend his lead to three shots at the Zurich Classic. Here’s the skinny on Round 2 at TPC Louisiana:

The leaderboard: Ben Martin (-15); Andrew Svoboda (-12); Seung-Yul Noh and Robert Streb at -11; Erik Compton and Peter Hanson at -10

What it means: The top six players on the leaderboard have yet to win on the PGA Tour, but the Zurich Classic has proven to be a launching pad for many maiden winners. Six of the past nine champions here have been of the first-time variety.

Round of the day: Backing up a course-record 62, Martin made six birdies and an eagle on Day 2 to take the lead heading into Saturday for the second week in a row. Last week at the Heritage, Martin held a share of the 36-hole lead before a 71-67 left him in a tie for third. On Friday, Martin played his first four holes in 4 under to take a six-shot lead, went bogey-double on 17 and 18, and then came home in 32 to secure a three-shot cushion.

Best of the rest: Andrew Svoboda hasn’t performed well this season, but he is in position to change his fortunes this week at TPC Louisiana. The 34-year-old, who has just two top 25s in 10 starts this season, was bogey-free through 35 holes before three-putting from 50 feet on the last hole for bogey. Searching for his first career top 10 on Tour, he is three shots behind Martin. Meanwhile, Seung-Yul Noh, in third at 11 under, has not recorded a bogey so far this week.    

Biggest disappointment: Already lacking in star power, the event received no help from headliners Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel and Patrick Reed, all of whom missed the 36-hole cut, which fell at 2-under 142. Most surprising was Reed, who made a 10 on the par-5 18th and shot 76. He was T-149 among the 155 players who completed both rounds.  

Biggest storyline heading into Saturday: This is unfamiliar territory for Martin, at least on the PGA Tour, and the players in pursuit will have nothing to lose on the weekend. The 36-hole leader has gone on to win just 11 times in 22 chances this season.

Shot of the day: Keegan Bradley’s second shot into the par-5 seventh. Playing from the right fairway bunker, he nearly holed his hybrid approach from 232 yards. He settled for a 3-foot eagle putt, which he converted on his way to a second-round 66. At 9 under, he is six shots back heading into the weekend.