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After being tied to LIV series, Robert Garrigus in the mix at Zurich Classic

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Here on the PGA Tour, Robert Garrigus could be in line for a significant – and much-needed – payday at the Zurich Classic.  

Playing this week on a special exemption, Garrigus teamed with fellow special invitee Tommy Gainey to post a 11-under 61 Thursday in the best-ball format and sat one shot back among the early starters at TPC Louisiana.

Garrigus made headlines earlier this week when Golfweek reported that he has requested a conflict-event release to play in the first event of the LIV Golf series, which begins June 10 outside London. He’s the first player to be publicly named, though the deadline to request a release is Monday. The Tour has until 30 days before the competing event begins (May 10) to either grant or deny the request. The 48-player LIV field will vie for a $25 million purse, with $4 million to the winner and $120,000 to the last-place finisher.

Garrigus confirmed to's Rex Hoggard earlier this week that he has applied for the release but declined to comment further, saying that he wanted to focus on this week.

“I am grateful to have been given a sponsor exemption into this week’s event,” he told Hoggard, “and I just want to focus on playing the best I can.”

Full-field scores from Zurich Classic of New Orleans

With limited status on Tour this season, Garrigus has banked just $162,592 and sits outside the top 200 in the FedExCup standings. Now 44, he has dropped outside the top 1,000 in the world rankings.

As special invitees, Garrigus and Gainey were matched up together by tournament organizers.

“There’s a difference in being put with somebody that you know and you like than being put together with somebody that you might have heard of but you don’t know personally or have no relationship whatsoever,” Gainey said. “You don’t know his game, and you don’t know his strengths and weaknesses. But like me and Robert here, we’re ready to roll.”

Garrigus contributed five birdies as the team surged into double figures during the more forgiving of the two formats. On Friday, they’ll play alternate shot – and Garrigus was headed to the range, to tighten up his game.

“I’m so glad I’m paired with Tommy,” he said. “I know his game. I’ve seen him play. It’s kind of ironic we’re playing this week. It’s a pretty easy situation.”  

The first-place team this week at the Zurich shares $2,398,700 (or $1,119,350 per player). That’s more than Garrigus has earned in the past five seasons combined.