Ben Martin holds three-shot Zurich Classic lead

Pádraig Harrington 13 shots off the lead after just making the cut in New Orleans

Rickie Fowler chips out of the bunker  during round two of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana. Photograph:  Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Rickie Fowler chips out of the bunker during round two of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana. Photograph: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Sat, Apr 26, 2014, 13:00

Ben Martin is on course for his first PGA Tour title after establishing a three-shot lead at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Friday.

The American recorded a course record 62 in his first round and followed that with a 67 to sit on 15 under, three shots clear of countryman Andrew Svoboda going into the weekend.

The 26-year-old, who began his second round on the back nine, looked as if he was going to have an even greater lead after registering a birdie on the 10th and an eagle at the par-five 11th. Another birdie followed on 13 but Martin dropped a shot on 17 before a disastrous double-bogey on the next saw him turn in 35.

He came back in 32, though, after picking up shots on one, four, seven and nine and is now in a prime position to challenge for a maiden title.

Martin was in the final pairing on Saturday afternoon at last week’s RBC Heritage before finishing in a tie for third and is hoping that experience will hold him in good stead.

“I think on 17, 18 today I got a little bit ahead of myself but I just kind of take it one shot at a time and stay in my routine and my process and that’s going to give me the best opportunity to be successful,” he told Sky Sports 4.

“I played in the last group on Saturday last week. I felt like I played well last weekend, got a little bit of confidence from that and hopefully (I will) keep it rolling.”

Svoboda followed a first round 64 with a 68 to sit on 12 under, one shot clear of Korea’s Noh Seung-yul who followed up his opening 65 with a flawless 68 and American Robert Streb who went round in 66.

Another American, Erik Compton, was on 10 under after shooting a 68 alongside Sweden’s Peter Hanson who led the European challenge after a second-round 69. Former US PGA champion Keegan Bradley was in the group at nine under and had looked set to make a major charge up the leaderboard midway through his round.

The American birdied the second before giving the shot back on the fourth but picked up another on five before recording an eagle on the par-five seventh.

Birdies followed at nine and 10 but then the scoring dried up and Bradley only picked up one further shot on 18. Former Open champion David Duval continued his resurgence this week by following up his opening 68 with a 69 to sit seven under alongside South Africa’s Retief Goosen who shot a sparkling 65.

England’s Justin Rose was a further shot back after a 67, one clear of countryman Paul Casey, while Pádraig Harrington just made the cut at two under after a level par 72.

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