AVONDALE — A stroke of bad luck proved costly for former LSU All-American John Peterson in Thursday’s opening round of the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana.
After making the turn at 2-under on the backside (his opening nine), Peterson’s second shot on the 407-yard, par 4 first hole struck a sprinkler head and bounced beyond the green leaving him with a tricky third shot. He chipped nearly 50 feet past the hole and two-putted for a disappointing 5.
Peterson finished at 1-under 71, the best of a six-man contingent from Louisiana playing in the Zurich Classic.
“I got off to a good start and just had a bad back nine,’’ Peterson said. “I got the worst break I think I’ve ever had on No. 1, and I’m not just saying that. I had 130 yards to the pin, hit a gap wedge and it lands on a sprinkler head in the fringe and kicks almost out-of-bounds. ... I just never really recovered. Man, it’s like that thing is this big. It got to me, I guess.’’
Other players with Louisiana ties are Patrick Reed and David Toms, who carded even-par 72s, Ken Looper (73), Michael Thompson (76) and Jake Narro (77).
Playing in his second PGA Tour event, Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old sensation from China, posted an even 72 Thursday and is tied for 85th.
“I think I played pretty good golf,’’ said Tianlang, who became the youngest player to make the cut at the Masters two weeks ago. “Not the best, but I made some up and downs and (three) birdies. This is a little bit different from the Masters.’’
Tianlang announced he will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Open at a qualifier in the Dallas area in a few weeks.
Past Zurich Classic champion Nick Watney (2007) got an early start to his 32nd birthday Thursday, waking up to darkness to work out the kinks before teeing off No. 10 at 7:30 a.m.
“Waking up at 5 in the morning, I’ll probably be pretty tame tonight,’’ Watney told reporters after he carded a 3-under 69. “But, yeah, it’s always good to celebrate a birthday, and to shoot a decent round makes it even better.
“I’m happy with my round, so I’ll go home and watch the boys have at it this afternoon.’’
Charlie Beljan gave an assist to a lady who was struck by his tee shot at the par 3 17th. Beljan bogeyed the hole but birdied No. 18 to finish at 5-under 67.
“It’s the first person I’ve ever hit since I’ve been out here, so I gave her a glove and signed the ball,’’ Beljan said. “Made a good four. Who knows where the ball would have been.’’
Latter & Blum has teamed up with the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for a military appreciation program this week. From Thursday through Sunday, the tournament will honor military members by having them hold the pin flag at the par-3 17th. All military members, past and present, will be suite guests of Latter & Blum at the 17th green.
Because of Wednesday’s torrential rain, tournament officials allowed players to lift, clean and place their golf balls in a playable lie Thursday. The last time L-C-P rules applied here was the final round of the 2008 tournament won by Andres Romero.
A three-legged, 12-foot alligator named “Tripod’’ by the locals ventured on to the 12th fairway within striking distance of PGA Tour rules official Mickey Bradley late Thursday. Golf Channel captured the brief stare down on camera. Man and gator went their separate ways.