Ben Martin doing it with ease in the Big Easy

Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:59pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Ben Martin could not quite emulate his brilliant opening round, but played well enough to open a three-stroke halfway lead over fellow American Andrew Svoboda at the $6.8 million Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Friday.

After a course record 62 on Thursday, the former U.S. Amateur Championship runner-up threatened to run away from the field when he picked up four more strokes in his first four holes on an ideal morning at the TPC Louisiana.

In the end, a five-under-par 67 was not quite enough to start planning his victory speech, but it nonetheless left Martin in command at 15-under 129.

Svoboda, without a blemish on his card all week until he three-putted his final hole, shot a 68 to move into second place on 12-under, with South Korean Noh Seung-yul (68) another stroke back in third.

"Four-under through four, it was nice to validate what I did yesterday, getting off to a hot start," Martin told reporters.

"Sometimes there can be a bit of a letdown after a really good round but I hit it to about six inches on (my first hole) and chipped in for eagle (on the next).

"Being 14-under through 22 holes was unfamiliar ground. I started thinking a little bit ahead."

A double-bogey at his ninth hole, the par-five 18th, where he drove into a water hazard and also three-putted, brought him back to reality, and that was the last blemish on his card.

"That was a little bit of a wake-up call," said Martin, 26, in his second season on the PGA Tour after losing his card in his 2012 rookie campaign.   Continued...