Gay-Sabbatini Open With 60, Lead Zurich

Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia and Brian Gay were on top of the leaderboard when the rain- delayed first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans wrapped up on Friday.

Sabbatini and Gay birdied the last two holes to shoot 12-under-par 60 in the four-ball format and take a one-stroke lead over Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La.

“It helps if you know the guy pretty well,” Gay said of picking a partner. “It’s better if your games match up and if you’re comfortable with your partner and you know each other. I think that works better.”

Gay (pictured left) and Sabbatini (right) collected birdies on 11 of the last 13 holes

They could have set a tournament record of 59 had Gay not missed a 6½-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole and Sabbatini couldn’t help but give his partner the needle.

“We would have beat it if Brian hadn’t actually let us down with his putting,” Sabbatini joked. “ … We actually match up very well because we’ve got very similar games in regards to how far we hit the ball, so we know what kind of lines we’re looking at. But I actually felt very comfortable playing with him.

“Obviously it’s great having him out there because you know he’s always going to putt well, so that takes a lot of pressure off it from the get-go.”

Stallings and Mullinax birdied seven of the last nine holes, including the last four in a row, to post a 61.

Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown, who tied for second in the Zurich two years ago, totaled 62 and were tied for third with Martin Laird of Scotland and Nick Taylor of Canada, Chez Reavie and Lucas Glover, J.T. Poston and Stephen Jaeger of Germany, and Russell Knox of Scotland and Brian Stuard.

Tony Finau and Kyle Stanley birdied the last four holes to cap a 63 and were tied for eighth with Alex Cjeka of Germany and Alex Prugh, Denny McCarthy and Roberto Diaz of Mexico, Joel Dahmen and Brandon Harkins, Brice Garnett and Chesson Hadley, Kevin Tway and Kelly Kraft, and Peter Malnati and Billy Hurley III.

Defending champions Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy posted a 66 and were in a tie for 40th that included Jonas Blixt of Sweden and Cameron Smith of Australia, who won the title two years ago when the tournament switched to the two-man format.

The second round, in the alternate-shot format, was set for Friday afternoon and tournament officials expect get back on schedule to get in all 72 holes because the weather is expected to be good throughout the weekend.

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