(Reuters) - Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela surged into a share of the lead at the weather-hit Zurich Classic of New Orleans when the thunderstorm-delayed first round was finally completed on Friday.
In pursuit of his second victory on the PGA Tour, the 31-year-old from Maturin birdied four of his last nine holes to shoot an eight-under-par 64 on a rain-softened layout at the TPC Louisiana.
That put Vegas level with American journeyman Brian Stuard, who had fired his 64 on Thursday when almost five hours of play was wiped out by heavy thunderstorms, leaving half the field to complete the opening round the following day.
Veteran South African Retief Goosen opened with a 65, Swede Henrik Norlander returned a 66 and Australian Geoff Ogilvy was among a group of 12 players bunched at 67.
Vegas, who clinched his maiden PGA Tour title at the 2011 Bob Hope Classic, was two-under after five holes when play was suspended for the day in fading light on Thursday.
Though he bogeyed his first hole on Friday morning, the par-four sixth, he covered the next eight in a sizzling seven under as he stormed to the top of the leaderboard.
Australian world number one Jason Day, who has already triumphed twice on the 2015-16 PGA Tour, carded a 69 on Thursday.
England’s world number 10 Justin Rose, who claimed last year’s Zurich Classic title by one shot, was eight off the pace after a level-par 72.
Because of the amount of time lost to Thursday’s adverse weather, the second round will spill over into Saturday when organizers will try to get the tournament back on schedule.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine