Lovemark and Vegas set early pace in New Orleans

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 29, 2016 7:50 PM

(Reuters) - American Jamie Lovemark produced sizzling form on the greens as he charged into a tie for the lead midway through the second round of the weather-disrupted Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Friday.

Seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour, Lovemark ended a marathon day of golf by firing a six-under-par 66 on a rain-softened layout at the TPC Louisiana to post an 11-under total of 133.

The 28-year-old Californian racked up seven birdies and a lone bogey to finish level with Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela, who followed his opening 64 with a 69.

Harold Varner III (67) was at eight under, one stroke better than fellow American Patton Kizzire (70) and South Africa's Thomas Aiken (69).

However, half the field will have to complete the second round on Saturday after nearly five hours of play was wiped out by thunderstorms on Thursday, and those late starters include Australian world number one Jason Day who opened with a 69.

Lovemark was delighted with his form after having to play 27 holes on Friday.

"Most everything has been pretty decent," he told Golf Channel after a round highlighted by birdie putts from 28 feet at the fourth and 18 feet at the 16th.

"I'm putting nice, aggressive off the tee, driving it well, trying to kind of work my irons a little bit, and that's something new for me. It's all a process and slowly improving."

Lovemark's best PGA Tour finish was a runner-up spot at the 2009 Open but this season has been his most consistent since he turned professional seven years ago and includes four top-10s in 15 starts.

"I've had a pretty decent season, just keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "I know obviously it works well. I've just got to believe in myself and keep pushing through."

England's world number 10 Justin Rose, who claimed last year's Zurich Classic title by one shot, was likely to miss the cut after carding successive 72s for a level-par total of 144.

The cut, to be made on Saturday, was projected to fall at two-under.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine)