Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith claimed the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in a play-off.

Leishman and Smith, who carded a final-round 70, won the first play-off hole to trump Oosthuizen and Schwartzel in the race for the title on Sunday.

Australian pair Leishman and Smith and South Africa's Oosthuizen-Schwartzel pairing (71) finished level at 20 under par through 72 holes, a shot clear of Americans Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein (67).

The final round was the second foursome format of the tournament, after Thursday and Saturday's rounds used alternate-shot play at TPC Louisiana.

Smith and Leishman soared to the top of the leaderboard thanks to 12 holes of flawless golf, which featured four birdies, before three bogeys in five holes allowed Oosthuizen-Schwartzel to join them at the summit.

Leishman's birdie chip at the 16th hole tied the South Africans as the two teams headed for a play-off – the first play-off in the team format of the event since former Masters runner-up Smith and Jonas Blixt prevailed in 2017.

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer (70) finished 17 under overall, Xander Schauffele-Patrick Cantlay (67) and Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose (70) were two shots further back, while Tony Finau and Cameron Champ crashed down the leaderboard from joint-second to 17th place following their 76.

Schauffele and Cantlay combined for eight birdies and claimed a share of 11th place – tying the record for most par-breakers in a foursomes round at the tournament since it became a team event.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel turned in a nine-under 63 in four-ball play to take the lead after the third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 

The South African duo are 19-under for the tournament and were one of six teams to record a 63, vaulting them past second-round leaders Tony Finau and Cameron Champ by a stroke. 

Australians Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith also shot nine-under and are tied for second with the American pair. 

The top of the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana is crowded, with Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler sitting two shots back along with first-round leaders Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura. 

The tournament, which switched to a team event in 2017, features four-ball in the first and third rounds and foursomes in the second and fourth. 

Three teams are at 16 under and nine more at 15 under, with the latter group including defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer. 

The shot of the day belonged to Sam Ryder, who holed a five iron from 206 yards at No. 2 for a double eagle -- the first at the tournament since Rob Oppenheim did it in 2018.

 

 

 

Tony Finau and Cameron Champ posted a four-under-par 68 in alternate-shot play for a share of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans lead following the second round.

After the opening round consisted of four-ball play at the longstanding PGA Tour tournament, which turned into a team event in 2017, day two switched to the foursomes format.

American pair Finau and Champ head into the weekend 13 under through 36 holes, two strokes clear alongside Norwegian duo Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura, who were tied for the lead after day one.

Hovland and Ventura posted a 69 on Friday to stay atop the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana.

"I know we're having a good time with this format up to this point," Finau said. "We've both played some really solid golf, and we find ourselves at the top of the leaderboard.

"We'll do what we've been doing the last couple days, which is enjoy each other's company and not add any bonus pressure when it comes to team-mate golf."

Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson-Scottie Scheffler are 11 under at the halfway stage of the tournament.

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer recorded a two-under-par 71 to be five shots behind.

Meanwhile, Graeme McDowell – playing alongside Matt Wallace – aced the 217-yard 17th hole to finish the day with a 70.

Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura ended the opening round tied for the lead alongside Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The longstanding PGA Tour tournament turned into a team event in 2017, with the first and third rounds consisting of four-ball where everyone plays their own shot and the best score counts. The second and fourth rounds feature foursome play or alternate shot.

On Thursday, after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hovland-Ventura and Garnett-Stallings moved a stroke clear atop the leaderboard at TPC Louisiana.

Both teams carded bogey-free 10-under-par 62s, ahead of Cameron Champ-Tony Finau, Billy Horschel-Sam Burns, Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele, Lee Kyoung-hoon-Kyle Stanley, Mark Hubbard-Sebastian Cappelen, Louis Oosthuizen-Charl Schwartzel and March Leishman-Cameron Smith.

Xander Schauffele, who threatened to break through for his maiden major title at the Masters, and Patrick Cantlay are eight under heading into the second round, along with Bubba Watson-Scottie Scheffler.

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer opened their bid for back-to-back titles with a 65 to earn a share of 16th position, three strokes off the pace, while Justin Rose-Henrik Stenson are also seven under.

Hideki Matsuyama made history as he became the first Japanese man to win a major tournament after claiming The Masters by one shot in a thrilling finale at Augusta.

Matsuyama was on the cusp of history heading into Sunday's final round, the 29-year-old carrying a four-stroke lead as he looked to replicate the major success of countrywomen Hinako Shibuno (2019 Women's British Open) and Chako Higuchi (1977 LPGA Championship) on the men's circuit.

A five-time PGA Tour winner before this success, Matsuyama withstood a wobble and the threat posed by Xander Schauffele (72) to complete a history-making performance in Georgia, where he triumphed at 10 under par overall following a 73 to get his hands on the green jacket.

Will Zalatoris (70) earned outright second position, two strokes ahead of former world number one and 2015 Masters winner Jordan Spieth (70) and 2019 runner-up Schauffele.

Matsuyama – four strokes clear at the start of the day – had extended his lead to five at the turn, but his title bid threatened to turn sour as Schauffele closed in and Zalatoris loomed.

After finding water at the par-five 15th hole, Matsuyama took the penalty and cleaned up for bogey as Schauffele continued to heap pressure on the Japanese hopeful, cutting the lead to two shots with his fourth consecutive birdie.

But Schauffele's pursuit of a maiden major collapsed when the American – seven back at the 12th tee before rallying – also found water before sending his next shot into the crowd.

Matsuyama had a routine par to move three shots clear with two to play, but he dropped another shot, his lead down to two ahead of Zalatoris as an ill-timed triple-bogey sent 2019 runner-up Schauffele down to equal third alongside Spieth – four shots behind.

It was Schauffele's first triple-bogey in a major championship – a run of 1,042 holes.

That was the breathing space Matsuyama needed as Japan's new poster boy held his nerve, doing what he needed to do during the final two holes in front of an appreciative crowd on the 18th, where not even a bogey could wipe away the champion's smile.

Matsuyama (2011) became the third Masters champion in the last five years to have previously earned low amateur honours, following in the footsteps of Tiger Woods (2019, low amateur in 1995) and Sergio Garcia (2017, low amateur in 1999).

Elsewhere, Jon Rahm (66) and Marc Leishman (73) shared fifth position at six under, while one-time major champion Justin Rose had to settle for seventh – five shots off the pace – following his final-round 74 as 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed (69) surged into a tie for eighth.

A sleep-deprived Jon Rahm is confident he can mount a strong challenge for a first major title following the "major life experience" of becoming a father last weekend.

The world number three will tee off at Augusta on Thursday just five days after his wife, Kelley, gave birth to baby Kepa.

Doting new dad Rahm has been relieved of diaper-changing duties to make the trip to Georgia for the first major of the year.

Rahm is among the favourites to don the green jacket on Sunday and, despite only arriving on the eve of the tournament, the Spaniard fancies his chances of celebrating his new arrival by experiencing his finest hour on a golf course.

"My concern is that I'm coming to a Masters, and from Thursday to Monday didn't sleep much, didn't hit a single golf shot," he said.

"You know, maybe I haven't prepared as much as I have in the past, but definitely I'm mentally in a different state.

"A lot of times practicing for a major you spend so much time thinking about golf, and for four or five days, it wasn't even on my mind, which is kind of refreshing.

"Coming here later than usual, but I'm here ready to compete. I wouldn't be here otherwise."

He added: "I'm not concerned. I went through a major life experience. If anything I'm just happier. I'm thankful to be here. If anything, definitely a different mental state, but I would say it's a better mental state."

Rahm revealed he had not been to Augusta since he finished in a tie for seventh in the Masters last November, but says that will not be an issue.

He said: "The course hasn't changed. I might need to spend a little bit of extra time today hitting lag putts and hitting some chips because the last time we played here it was a little softer and slower, but tee to green it doesn't really change much.

"Luckily I've played here before, and I always have a good vibe when I come here."

Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele will tee off for their first round at 10:42 local time.

Dustin Johnson has had little time to revel in the success of his record-breaking Masters triumph last November.

The world number one became the first player in the tournament's illustrious history to win with a score of 20 under par.

But the coronavirus pandemic meant the event could not be held in its usual April slot, with Johnson's triumph achieved amid an Autumnal rather than Spring backdrop.

This year, though, the action takes place at the traditional point in the calendar. So, here we are for the first major of 2021 and the expert team at Stats Perform News have picked out their favourites for the green jacket.

GEAR UP FOR THE SPIETH SHOW – Peter Hanson

Here is a statement of fact (okay, actually it's an opinion): golf is much more fun when Jordan Spieth is in the groove. We all know it to be true. And recently, boy have there been some tantalising moments to suggest Spieth will be flying at Augusta – a place where you could fill a lengthy highlight reel with his brilliance from years gone by. A rancid run of form saw Spieth ranked as low as 92nd earlier this year following a missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. However, four top-10 finishes from six events preceded a victory at the Valero Texas Open at the weekend – his first tournament win since triumphing at The Open four years ago. Spieth is always great viewing at a venue where he was champion in 2015 and has recorded three other top-three finishes. Key to success for Spieth will be if he can get the putter firing. On the PGA Tour this season, he ranks fifth for one-putt average, while his 27.91 putts per round tallies fourth.

BRYSON REVOLUTIONISED THE SPORT, NOW HE'LL WEAR GREEN - Dan Lewis

Having helped to revolutionise the sport en route to winning the US Open seven months ago, Bryson DeChambeau will now be looking to put his power game to good use with a second major title. The 27-year-old will certainly better his previous best finish of 21st in 2016 and, if he can continue to improve his putting, he has a serious shot of unseating Johnson.

THERE'S NO CURE QUITE LIKE WINNING FOR RORY – John Skilbeck

Who was that lurking in 39th place on the FedEx Cup standings last week? Is there another Rory McIlroy or is this where we are? By now, many thought we would be in an era of McIlroy domination, given the prowess he showed in his early twenties, but those predictions have been skewered, with McIlroy struggling to mount sustained title challenges in the majors. His career card shows plenty of top-10 finishes at the very elite level, but, since landing his fourth major at the 2014 US PGA Championship, the Northern Irishman has often been chasing essentially lost causes. There have been rounds which have amounted almost to self-sabotage, such as the closing 74 when he was genuinely in the hunt three years ago at Augusta, or the 75 with which he began last year. With coach Pete Cowen now on board, McIlroy is actively looking for remedies. There's no cure quite like winning.

DON'T IGNORE THE OBVIOUS, DJ CAN MASTER AUGUSTA AGAIN – Ben Spratt

Are we ignoring the obvious? Dustin Johnson is the Masters favourite and rightfully so. Since winning on his last trip to Augusta in November, DJ triumphed at the Saudi International on the European Tour but his PGA form has been mixed – just one top-10 finish from five tournaments. But no other golfer has had the benefit of returning to the scene of their triumph just five months later. Johnson did not just squeak to victory in November either; his 20-under 268 for the week broke Masters records and secured a five-stroke advantage. Do not bet against him mastering Augusta again.

IT'S NOW OR NEVER FOR VETERAN WESTWOOD – Pat Ridge

Westwood has never won a major, but he is in excellent form heading to Augusta. He just missed out to Bryson DeChambeau at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, losing by one shot – his best result on the PGA Tour since he tied for second at the 2016 Masters. He followed that up with a second-placed finish at The Players Championship, and it could be a case if not now, then will it ever happen for the 47-year-old? A strong performance will also do his Ryder Cup chances no harm, as he looks to match Nick Faldo’s record of 11 appearances for Europe.

NEW FATHER RAHM CAN JOIN NEW WINNERS' CLUB – Chris Myson

Collin Morikawa and Bryson DeChambeau were first-time winners in golf's majors in 2020. Going further back, 12 of the last 19 winners had never before won a major, while seven of the last 10 champions at Augusta was triumphing at one of the big four events for a first time. This could be Jon Rahm's turn to continue those trends. While first-time winners have been prominent, nine of the last 10 Masters winners had landed a top-six major finish in the previous two years before breaking their duck. Rahm, who recently became a father for the first time, came in a tie for third at the 2019 U.S. Open and has three straight top-10 finishes to his name at Augusta. He has recent form too. In seven events in 2021, Rahm has five top-10s and is yet to miss a cut.

Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Scottie Scheffler and Victor Perez are all vying for a spot in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play final after a day of upsets in Austin.

Stars Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia surprisingly crashed out in the quarter-finals as the underdogs ruled on Saturday.

The unpredictable tournament continued on the weekend after world number one Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed were unable to advance beyond the group stage.

Spanish third seed Rahm topped Erik van Rooyen 3 and 2 in the last 16 before being upstaged by Scheffler 3 and 1 in the quarter-finals at the Austin Country Club.

"I felt like I played some really good golf," said Scheffler, who will meet Kuchar in an all-American clash for a spot in Sunday's decider. "I think I kept things bogey-free and I got some early leads and made sure that I kept the pressure on those guys and made them feel like they had to do something special to beat me, which they weren't able to do."

Fleetwood – the 21st seed – succumbed to Horschel after 19 holes, while former Masters champion Garcia was beaten by 31st seed Victor Perez 4 and 3.

American golfer Horschel and France's Perez will do battle in the semis.

Englishman Fleetwood was sent packing after hitting a hole-in-one during his last-16 victory – a drive out of bounds at the 12th seeding him come unstuck in the quarters.

It was a big day for 2013 champion Kuchar, who eliminated former world number one Jordan Spieth 1up before defeating Brian Harman 2 and 1.

Kuchar – the 52nd seed – was runner-up in 2019, with last year's event cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Certainly golf's a funny game and I think there are times as a professional where you can feel so far away, you think, golly, I don't have it," Kuchar said.

"I'm racking my brain trying to find it, but then you plug in the right ingredient, the right key, and then all of a sudden it snaps back, and thankfully it's been working and I'm seeing progression. It's just finally now it's clicked and it's a lot more fun this way, I assure you."

Rory McIlroy played a tee shot into a swimming pool during a shocking start to his WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play campaign, where he was hammered 6 and 5 by Ian Poulter.

The Northern Irishman has had well documented issues with his swing in recent weeks and has linked up with renowned coach Pete Cowen for the tournament at the Austin Country Club.

But McIlroy struggled badly during his round-robin opener against fellow Europe Ryder Cup star Poulter and was already two down by the time he pulled his tee shot wildly left at the fifth tee, with his ball sinking into the pool at a nearby house.

He managed to claw within one by the eighth, but Poulter then won five holes in a row to condemn McIlroy to a heavily opening defeat in Group 11, where Cameron Smith beat Lanto Griffin in the pool's other opener.

Dustin Johnson had no such woe as he started with a 2 Up win over Adam Long in Group One, while Jon Rahm defeated Sebastian Munoz 1 Up (Group 3), and Bryson DeChambeau overcame Antoine Rozner 2 Up (Group 5).

Justin Thomas was beaten 3 and 2 by Matt Kuchar (Group 2), though, while Jordan Spieth outclassed Matthew Fitzpatrick 3 and 1 (Group 15) despite a comedy moment when he drove the 15th green…but from the 13th tee.

England's Matt Fitzpatrick and American Webb Simpson took a share of the lead in a star-studded field at the WGC-Workday Championship.

World number 16 Fitzpatrick carded a six-under 66 without dropping a shot on day one at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida.

Ninth-ranked Simpson closed a clean back nine with three straight birdies and a par to climb up the leaderboard and match the 26-year-old Englishman's score.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka dropped his only shot at the par-four 16th, but is alongside three others at five under.

Americans Kevin Kisner and Billy Horschel also carded 67s and were joined in third place by 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia, who drained a round-high eight birdies.

World number two Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed were among six players tied in seventh at four under, along with Tony Finau.

Adam Scott saw a potential hole-in-one come back off the flag at the sixth and shot an up-and-down even-par 72, while Justin Thomas recovered from dropping four shots in three holes to close with three birdies in the last four to sign for a one-over 73.

World number one Dustin Johnson posted a pair of double bogeys on his way to a five-over 77. That score was matched by US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, who dropped shots on seven holes.

Rory McIlroy made a decent start, shooting a three-under 69 to sit in a tie for 13th.

The first World Golf Championships event of the season kicks off the Florida swing of the tour, heading towards The Players Championship starting on March 11.

Spanish star Jon Rahm said he hopes Tiger Woods "can still play with his kids and have a normal life" after the golf great was involved in a single-car crash.

Woods was "very fortunate" to survive a car crash in California on Tuesday that left the 15-time major champion with serious leg injuries and question marks hanging over his career.

The 45-year-old American superstar underwent surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center after an early morning crash that saw his car roll "several hundred feet", according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Woods, who had to be pulled from his vehicle with specialist equipment and an axe, was already recovering from back surgery ahead of April's Masters at Augusta.

His career has been hampered by a long-standing back issue, which has required five procedures in recent years.

Rahm reacted to the news as shockwaves were sent through the golf and sport's world amid reports of  compound fractures to both legs.

"As if his body hasn't endured enough," Rahm said as he prepares for Thursday's WGC-Workday Championship.

"Just hoping out of a bad situation, the best possible outcome, and I hope he can recover from it and we can see him on the golf course as early as possible.

"I know he underwent surgery early this year, so I hope he didn't damage anything he had done already.

"I just hope he can get out of the hospital after recovery and he can still play with his kids and have a normal life."

Tony Finau – also gearing up for the WGC event at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida – was part of the Woods-led United States team that defeated the Internationals at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne.

"He means a lot to the game of golf," Finau said. "I've said it I think time after time, the '97 Masters changed the course of my life.

"Without that event I probably wouldn’t be here, I wouldn't be playing golf, so he definitely changed the course of my life, my career. I think I'm one of hundreds of guys out here probably that would say the same thing.

"We all know he's a strong cookie physically, mentally, so if someone's going to get through this, he will and be back for the better, I'm sure. My thoughts and prayers I'm sure, as all the players, I can speak on their behalf, are with Tiger."

Patrick Reed clinched the Farmers Insurance Open title with a dominant five-stroke triumph at Torrey Pines.

Reed carded a four-under-par 68 in the final round to claim the largest margin of victory of his career on Sunday.

American star Reed and Carlos Ortiz had shared the lead heading into the deciding day in San Diego, where the former starred on the South Course.

Reed posted an eagle, three birdies and a bogey to be 14 under overall for his ninth PGA Tour trophy – with his 2018 Masters success among the honours.

The victory marked the 50th top-10 performance of Reed's Tour career. The last five players to reach that milestone with a win also include Jason Day (2016), Bubba Watson (2016), Rocco Mediate (2002) and Phil Mickelson (2000).

"My biggest takeaway was mentally, I hung in there and stayed the course," Reed said afterwards, following a rules furore on Saturday.

"... We felt like we did [the right thing], the rules officials felt like they did that at the same time so with that being said I felt fine, I felt great throughout the day. And at the end of the day, I wouldn't have felt any other way.

"I was able to shoot a low number [Sunday] and get the job done."

Tony Finau (69), Henrik Norlander (69), Ryan Palmer (70), Xander Schauffele (69) and Viktor Hovland (71) finished tied for second, while Will Zalatoris (71), Lanto Griffin (72) and John Rahm were a stroke further back and six shots behind.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy faded as he ended the tournament in a share of 16th position at six under.

McIlroy's final-round 73 included a double-bogey, two bogies and three birdies in a mixed bag for the Northern Irish star.

Patrick Reed and Carlos Ortiz will take a share of the lead into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Ortiz produced the best round of the day on the South Course at Torrey Pines on Saturday as the Mexican carded a six-under 66.

He was two under through 12 holes in his third round before producing a blistering finish, which included four birdies on his final six holes.

Ortiz moved into 10 under to share a two-stroke lead with Reed, who managed a 70.

Reed endured a rollercoaster round with an eagle and three birdies on the front nine, but he needed a bridie at the last to share the lead after four bogeys between 11 and 16.

The American was involved in some controversy at the 10th hole, where he sought relief for an embedded ball that replays showed had first bounced, and the 2018 Masters champion picked it up before the rules official arrived.

Asked if in hindsight he would pick the ball up before the rules official was there, Reed told CBS: "Yes.

"Because you sit there and when you have three players, including yourself, three caddies and a volunteer that's within five yards of that golf ball and no-one says it bounced, you're going to mark it and check to see if the ball is embedded. That's what every player does.

"If no-one sees it bounce, they see that it looks like it's broken the plain in the ground, you mark the ball and you pick it up first and then when you see that it is embedded that's when you always call the rules official over, no matter what you're doing, to take the drop to make sure you're doing the drop correctly."

Jon Rahm is one of five players tied for third at eight under after the Spaniard carded an even-par 72 in the third round.

Alongside Rahm are Sam Burns (70), Lanto Griffin (72), overnight leader Viktor Hovland (73) and Adam Scott (72).

Rory McIlroy remains in contention after shooting a 70 that sees him sitting alongside Sam Ryder (69), Will Zalatoris (70) and Ryan Palmer (73) at seven under.

Viktor Hovland finished strongly to claim a one-stroke advantage at the halfway stage of the Farmers Insurance Open, where Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth missed the cut.

Hovland birdied his final hole in Friday's second round to card a seven-under-par 65 and top the leaderboard heading into the weekend at Torrey Pines.

Battling rain, hail and wind – which halted proceedings in the second round – Norwegian golfer Hovland managed to rise 47 positions to lead a star-studded field thanks to eight birdies and just one bogey on the South Course.

The 23-year-old – winner of the Puerto Rico Open and Mayakoba Golf Classic on the PGA Tour last year – is nine under through 36 holes, ahead of 2017 champion Jon Rahm (67), Adam Scott (69), Tony Finau (67), Lanto Griffin (70), Ryan Palmer (70) and Patrick Reed (72).

Alex Noren (74), who was tied for the overnight lead alongside Reed, fell into a share of 11th, three shots off the pace.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy is a stroke further back following his one-under-par 71 on the North Course.

McIlroy mixed four birdies with three bogeys to be tied for 14th position along with Will Zalatoris (71), Jason Kokrak (69), Adam Hadwin (70), Rory Sabbatini (67), two-time winner Brandt Snedeker (70) and Max Homa (68).

Defending champion Marc Leishman posted a second-round 70 to be three under overall, two strokes better off than rallying veteran Phil Mickelson (72).

Mickelson was on the cusp of missing the cut during the rain delay, but the five-time major champion holed back-to-back birdies to qualify for the weekend.

Former world number one Spieth (75) missed the cut as his bid to win for the first time since 2017 continues.

Koepka's 76 saw the four-time major winner also miss the cut, along with two-time Farmers Insurance Open champion Jason Day (72).

Patrick Reed and Alex Noren carded eight-under 64s to share the lead after the opening round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Reed, who missed the cut at last week's The American Express, produced a bogey-free first round on the North Course at Torrey Pines on Thursday.

The American made three straight birdies after starting his round at the 10th and had another run of three straight on his back nine, tying the second-lowest first-round score of his PGA Tour career.

Reed shares a one-stroke lead with Noren, the 2018 runner-up who also fired a 64 on the North Course.

A former top-10 player, Noren has dropped to 96th in the rankings after going winless since 2018.

Scottie Scheffler is outright third after his 65, while 12 players opened with 66s – with only Peter Malnati and Ryan Palmer, who was runner-up alongside Noren three years ago, playing the South Course of that group.

K.J. Choi, 50, is also among that group after a bogey-free round that featured six birdies, as the two-time runner-up – whose last win was in 2012 – surprised.

Beau Hossler, Talor Gooch, Luke List, Sam Burns, Gary Woodland, Lanto Griffin, Rhein Gibson, Cameron Smith and Brandon Hagy are also tied for fourth.

Rory McIlroy made a solid start with a four-under 68 on the South Course, while 2017 winner Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth opened with 69s.

Brooks Koepka is in a tie for 88th after an even-par 72, while two-time champion Jason Day endured a tough opening round, mixing a double bogey with six bogeys and four birdies to shoot a 76.

Richy Werenski, meanwhile, carded a 69 that included a hole-in-one at the third hole on the South Course, having also managed an ace in the final round of last year's event.

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