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McIlroy, Lowry share lead at team event in Louisiana

Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy - The Canadian Press

AVONDALE, La. (AP) — Rory McIlroy is enjoying his first visit to New Orleans — on and off the course.

McIlroy and Shane Lowry shot an 11-under 61 in fourball play Thursday for a share of the first-round lead in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the PGA Tour’s only team event.

The Irish duo shared the lead with the teams of Ryan Brehm-Mark Hubbard, Ben Kohles-Patton Kizzire and Aaron Rai-David Lipsky.

Davis Thompson-Andrew Novak, Thomas Detry-Robert MacIntyre and Cameron Champ-M.J. Daffue were at 62 Twenty teams were 9 under or better on a crowded leaderboard at TPC of Louisiana.

McIlroy’s introduction to New Orleans included a sampling of crab beignets from popular restaurant La Petite Grocery on Wednesday night, a meal he shared with Lowry. On Thursday, they feasted on the Pete Dye layout, birdieing their first four holes.

“I’ve had a wonderful time so far,” McIlroy said. “I’ve only been here a couple of days but we’re staying downtown. It’s a cool city, great food scene."

McIlroy had the team’s first three birdies, although on the par-5 second Lowry was inches away but watched as his teammate knocked in a putt of about 4 feet. After a pair of pedestrian pars, they birdied four of the next six holes before closing out with a birdie on the par-5 18th to gain a share of the lead.

“We both played nice golf,” Lowry said, emphasizing the importance getting off to a fast start. “We both made some nice birdies and contributed to the team, and I think we’re very happy with the day.”

Brehm and Hubbard mirrored McIlroy and Lowry with four opening birdies. The team made the turn in 6-under par 30 and bookended birdies on the 10th and 11th and 17th and 18th holes on the back nine.

“Just like usual, we ham-and-egged it,” Brehm said. “I don’t think either of us were feeling amazing about our games coming into the day, but we just feed off each other really well. “I was doing a lot of spectating today.”

Russ Cochran, the oldest player in the field at 65, made his first PGA Tour star since 2013, teaming with Eric Cole for a 69 that left them tied for 73rd. Cochran’s son, Reed Cochran, is Cole’s caddie. Cole had a hole-in-one on No. 14.

On Friday, they will play alternative shot.

“Looking forward to getting out in foursomes tomorrow,” Lowry said. “It’s a format that’s tougher, but it is an enjoyable format.

McIlroy was noncommittal Thursday when asked if he and Lowry would attend the popular New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on Friday afternoon. The duo have an 8:53 a.m. tee time Friday.

“Who’s playing tomorrow night, do you know?” McIlroy asked his good friend.

“No, I’m not going out anywhere,” Lowry said with a laugh. “I’m staying out of trouble.”

Jazz Fest notwithstanding, McIlroy joked he hopes the pairing has a late tee time Saturday, meaning they will be close to the lead.


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