Barnes Gets Cooking in the 'Big Easy'

Ricky Barnes started off on the right foot in the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a $6.6 million PGA Tour event that began Thursday at TPC Louisiana in Avondale.

Barnes, a 32-year-old from Stockton, Calif., who's still in search of his first individual Tour title, fired an 8-under 64 that included seven birdies, an eagle on the par-5 opening hole, and a lone bogey for a one-stroke edge over Boo Weekley and Lucas Glover.

Barnes has been in a funk of late, missing missed seven cuts in his previous nine tournaments prior to the Zurich Classic. "I just haven't gotten off to good starts in the first couple of days,'' Barnes explained to "It seems like I'm always just chasing the cut.''

He gave credit for his fine start Thursday to swing coach, Dean Reinmuth, and sports psychologist, Neale Smith, and to the fact the players were allowed to lift-clean-and-place balls hit in closely mowed areas following a heavy rainstorm Wednesday that forced cancellation of the Pro-Am.

"At the end of the day, if you give us ball in hand out here we're going to have a chance to go low,'' added Barnes. "I knew you could attack the pins this morning because of the soft greens. But if you asked me if I thought I would tie a course record, no, I didn't think that when we went out this morning.

"But I've been working my (butt) off and it showed today. It was nice to go out and play a good round. I knew I had some good golf in me, but until you go out and actually shoot it, no one will believe you.''

D.A. Points, who won the Shell Houston Open in late March for his second Tour title, shot a 66 to match Morgan Hoffman's score. Posting 67s were Charlie Beljan, Aussie Matt Jones, Luke Guthrie, Ernie Els, Rickie Fowler, Billy Horschel, Chris Kirk, Stephen Ames, Bobby Gates and Jimmy Walker.

Els lost in a playoff to 2012 Zurich Classic winner Jason Dufner, who posted a 70 on Thursday. On his 32nd birthday, Nick Watney shot a 69, a score matched by Keegan Bradley, who posted his 3-under effort despite a bout of the flu.

Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur from China who made an international splash at the Masters earlier this month, opened with a 72.

Bubba Watson, who secured his third PGA Tour win in the Zurich Classic in 2011, shot a 73.

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