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Golf - Stallings and Mullinax take early lead in rainy New Orleans

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Golf - Stallings and Mullinax take early lead in rainy New Orleans
Apr 25, 2019; Avondale, LA, USA; Scott Stallings hits from the 18th hole bunker during the first round of the Zurich Classic golf tournament at TPC Louisiana. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports   -   Copyright  Stephen Lew(Reuters)
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(Reuters) – Americans Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax birdied seven of their final nine holes to take a one-stroke lead at the rain-shortened opening round of fourball matches at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Thursday.

Stallings and Mullinax combined for an 11-under-par 61 at the team event at TPC Louisiana, on a day blighted by a seven-hour, 33-minute stoppage due to heavy rain and lightning.

Briton Martin Laird and Canadian Nick Taylor mixed 11 birdies with three bogies for a 10-under round of 62 and a share of second place with American Brian Gay and Slovak Rory Sabbatini.

Gay and Sabbatini’s round was suspended for darkness after the 14th hole, where they had just made a ninth straight birdie.

They were far from alone in finishing early, with only eight teams able to complete their rounds at the course on the Mississippi River, which shares space with resident alligators.

The shot of the day belonged to Kevin Kisner, who had his first hole-in-one at a PGA Tour event on the 201-yard, par-three third as he and fellow American Scott Brown moved into a tie for sixth.

The weather is forecast to improve on Friday and through the weekend at the event, which features 80 two-player teams playing fourball in the first and third rounds and foursomes in the second and a final rounds.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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