Blixt-Smith lead Zurich Classic as top teams miss cut

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Blixt-Smith lead Zurich Classic as top teams miss cut

Los Angeles (AFP) – The team of Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith fired two eagles and six birdies en route to a 62 in the better ball second round of the Zurich Classic on Friday, taking a one-shot lead in the US PGA Tour event.

“I think just having a backup, playing a little more aggressively,” Australia’s Smith said of the key to their success at TPC Louisiana in New Orleans, which left them on 15-under 129.

“And Jonas is putting really good, chipping really good,” Smith added of his Swedish partner, “so you always know he’s going to get up and down for par, so just shooting the pins and it all came off today.”

Americans Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay also carded a 62 and were one back on 130.

Some of the biggest names in the tournament, however, won’t be around for the weekend. Australian Jason Day and US teammate Rickie Fowler missed the cut, as did England’s Justin Rose and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who teamed up after taking gold and silver at the Rio Olympics last year.

The Korean duo of KJ Choi and Charlie Wi carded a second-round 64 to share third place on 131 with Americans Troy Merri and Robert Streb, who carded one of the morning’s five 10-under rounds of 62.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth and fellow Texan Ryan Palmer posted their second straight 66 to join a group three off the pace on 132.

The event shifted to a team format this year, with 80 two-man teams playing alternate shot in the first and third rounds and better ball in the second and final rounds.

It’s the first official team tournament on the PGA Tour since 1981.

High winds saw few afternoon starters threaten the top of the leaderboard.

Blixt and Smith showed what could be accomplished in the more benign morning conditions in the better ball format, in which each man plays his own ball with the best score for each team recorded.

They went into the round one shot off the lead. Teeing off on 10 they made four birdies before the turn. Coming in, Smith eagled from 31 feet at the par-five second hole. At the seventh it was Blixt’s turn to nab an eagle from 27 feet.

Reed and Cantlay combined for 10 birdies, while Choi and Wi had four birdies on each side in their eight-under effort.

Fowler and Day, meanwhile, had just four birdies on Friday.

“It wasn’t like we played bad golf,” Fowler said. “We just didn’t make enough birdies.”

Rose said he and Stenson just didn’t make enough of the par-five holes. They arrived at the par-five 18th needing a birdie to make the cut, but both found the water.

“Summed up our week on the par-fives,” Rose said.

Cameron Smith of Australia and Jonas Blixt of Sweden react to their putt on the 8th hole during the second round of the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana
Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP Chris Graythen

 

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