Martin on fire in New Orleans

US Tour

The unheralded Ben Martin has a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Zurich Classic in New Orleans courtesy of a scintillating course-record ten-under-par 62 at the $6.8 million event.

The blistering start means the 26-year-old American is now a 5/4 favourite with Paddy Power to walk away with the title come Sunday.

Martin lies two shots ahead of fellow American Andrew Svoboda and three ahead of Swede Peter Hanson and Seung-Yul Noh of South Korea.

His impressive scorecard included ten birdies and no bogeys as he tamed the gusty afternoon winds.

Martin started fast and was six under on the front nine. He added further birdies at ten, eleven and thirteen and when he chipped in for his final birdie from 55 feet on the par three 17th, it simply added the icing on the cake.

“Awesome way to start,” Martin told the PGA Tour website.

“The ball was going where I was looking and it seemed like the putts were falling in just like I was seeing them.

“Really, everything was working well. 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’s round is the lowest score on tour since world number two Adam Scott also shot a 62 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in March.

The South Carolinian finished a career best tied for third place finish at the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head last weekend. However, before that, Martin missed seven out of eight cuts and was in a bit of a crisis.

In an effort to change things up, he started seeing a sports psychologist and hired a good friend as his caddie. The change seems to have worked.

Meanwhile, Hanson, whose round included an eagle on the par four sixth, is attempting to find the form that saw him reach world number 19 in 2012. A back injury left him off the course for a few months last year.

“I know all about what Tiger’s going through,” said the 36-year-old, referring to Tiger Woods who recently had back surgery.

“I’m trying to play a little more relaxed. I managed to make a few putts going out and then had a bit of a jackpot coming in with a two on a really tough hole.”

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