Ben Martin surges to Zurich Classic lead

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 24, 2014 at 8:17 pm •  Published: April 24, 2014
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AVONDALE, La. (AP) — A few weeks ago, Ben Martin had missed seven of eight cuts and figured he'd better make some changes.

He started by meeting with his sports psychologist and hiring an old buddy from Clemson as his new caddie.

The results have been pretty good so far.

On Thursday, Martin treated a tiny late-afternoon gallery to a course-record round, shooting a 10-under 62 in the first round of the Zurich Classic.

"Really, everything was working well," Martin said. "I had a pretty good start and just kept it rolling. It was just one of those days, just like you draw it up."

Martin birdied 10 holes and made pars on the rest. His final birdie came on his most spectacular shot in a round full of them when he chipped in from 55 feet with a 54-degree sand wedge on the par-3 17th hole. That came a hole after the 26-year-old South Carolina native hit the flag on a chip from behind the green, setting up a tap-in par.

The previous record at TPC Louisiana was a 64, accomplished many times, including once earlier Thursday, when Andrew Svoboda did it to take a lead that held up until Martin surged past late in the day.

Peter Hanson and Sueng-Yul Noh were tied for third at 65.

Martin stayed home during the Masters two weeks ago, when meetings with his psychologist persuaded him to focus more on the process of playing on the tour than his results. Then he hired fellow former Clemson player Alex Boyd to haul his clubs, giving him a sense of comfort as walked the course with someone he could talk to about anything.

"We're good friends ... have a lot in common, so a lot to talk about in between shots," Martin said.

Last weekend, Martin matched his career best with a third-place tie in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, S.C. He also finished third in early March in the Puerto Rico Open, but missed four cuts after that.

Martin opened the Zurich with a 10-foot birdie putt, the first of six birdies on the front nine, most set up by approach shots within 10 feet. One exception was his 26-foot birdie putt on No. 5. He opened the back nine with a 14-foot birdie putt, made a 10-footer on 11 and a 20-footer on 13.

Most of the round was followed by only a dozen or so people, including his mother, Suzie, who could be heard making encouraging comments like, "nice putt," and "good par."