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Barnes fires 64, takes early Zurich lead


With lift, clean and place conditions in effect at TPC Louisiana after heavy rains Wednesday, players were able to take full advantage of a course with receptive greens. Here's how things shape up heading into the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, where Ricky Barnes leads by one:

The leaderboard: Ricky Barnes (-8), Boo Weekley (-7), Lucas Glover (-7), D.A. Points (-6), Morgan Hoffmann (-6), Ernie Els (-5), Rickie Fowler (-5)

What it means: Still seeking his first PGA Tour victory, Barnes set the pace early Thursday morning and still sat atop the leaderboard at day's end. The Arizona alum had broken 70 only once since January entering this week, but he now finds himself in position to break out of a slump that has seen him miss seven cuts in his last eight starts.

Round of the day: Birdies were flying early and often at TPC Louisiana, but no one fared better than Barnes, who tied the course record with an 8-under 64. His round began with an eagle on the par-5 second hole, and Barnes was able to end on a high note, notching birdies on five of his last six holes.

Best of the rest: A runner-up last month at the Tampa Bay Championship, Weekley made it out of his first round in the Big Easy without dropping a shot. Weekley's round followed a similar pattern to that of Barnes, as he was also able to eagle the second hole to get his round headed in the right direction, then added birdies on three of his final five holes of the day.

Biggest disappointment: While dozens of players were able to better par Thursday, Jordan Spieth was not among that group. Spieth, whose early season results were good enough to net special temporary PGA Tour membership, made only two birdies en route to a 4-over 76 in Thursday's opening round. With three top-10 finishes in his last five starts, Spieth has his work cut out for him to make the 36-hole cut.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can Barnes remain in position for his maiden victory? A good result this week could go a long way toward getting his 2013 season back on track, but several top-ranked players remain in position after the opening round, including last year's runner-up Els and Justin Rose (68).

Shot of the day: After a strong drive split the fairway at the second hole, Weekley had 255 yards left to the pin. His long approach to the par-5 was right on target, ultimately rolling to within three feet of the hole, and the subsequent kick-in eagle helped to spark the two-time PGA Tour winner's opening round.

Quote of the day: 'I'm not too far off. I just wanted to get around the course today without really doing any damage.' – Jason Dufner, who began defense of his Zurich title with a 2-under 70 Thursday.

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