(Reuters) - Sweden’s Jonas Blixt and Australian Cameron Smith, liberated by Friday’s Four-Ball (best-ball) format, combined for a 10-under-par 62 to grab the halfway lead at the Zurich Classic team tournament at TPA Louisiana.
Blixt and Smith stood at 15-under-par 129 for a one-stroke lead over Americans Patrick Reed, the U.S. Ryder Cup spark plug who feeds off team play, and Patrick Cantlay, who also put together a 62 despite gusty winds outside New Orleans.
Numerous teams went low, but none lower than South Africans Retief Goosen and Tyrone Van Aswegan, who posted a 12-under 60 to catapult up the leaderboard on 11 under par 133 after a bogey-free round that featuring 10 birdies and an eagle.
After the opening round of Foursomes (alternate shot), playing best-ball freed up the players to play more aggressively in the first team event on the PGA Tour in 36 years.
”I think we just trust each other’s game and that makes us be able to go at the pins and be aggressive,“ Blixt told Golf Channel. ”Cam has my back and I have his and that makes it easy.
“There’s 18 holes and I feel like we can both make birdies on each hole and try to make as many as we can.”
Smith gave most of the credit to the Swede.
“Jonas is playing really well at the moment so I can just play aggressive,” he said.
Tied for third two shots off the pace were South Koreans K.J. Choi and Charlie Wi, who came out of retirement to play, along with Americans Troy Merritt and Robert Streb.Lurking three shots off the pace in a share of fifth were world number five Jordan Spieth and fellow American Ryan Palmer, who struggled at times but tried to stay positive.
“We have a rule where you can’t apologise and you can’t say ‘My bad’ or you got to pay the other one,” Spieth said. “I think that’s useful. We’re both being positive influences when the other one’s a little off.”
Two marquee duos featuring pairings of top 10 players failed to make the cut, set at seven under par.
European Ryder Cup team mates Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose missed the cut by a stroke but still finished one shot better than Australian Jason Day and his American partner Rickie Fowler.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Nick Mulvenney