(Reuters) – Jordan Spieth and fellow American Ryan Palmer birdied three of their final five holes to grab a share of the lead after the opening-round foursomes matches at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Thursday.
World number five Spieth and good friend Palmer combined for an alternate-shot, six-under-par 66 that left them tied atop the leaderboard with Kyle Stanley and Australian Ryan Ruffels.
South Korean K.J. Choi and compatriot Charlie Wi were one of four teams sitting one shot off the pace at the TPC Louisiana.
The revamped tournament featuring 80 two-man teams was approved last November as a way to introduce team competition into the regular PGA Tour schedule.
Spieth and Palmer only ended up team mates for the event after a casual round of golf last November with their caddies Michael Greller and James Edmondson.
Edmondson, a former college golfer and four-time club champion from Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, told Spieth that if he beat the twice major champion over 18 holes then he would have to partner up with Palmer.
The American duo birdied the two front-nine par-fives and doubled up on the back with four birdies in a bogey-free round that saw Spieth chip in for birdie at the par-three 14th.
Australian world number three Jason Day and ninth-ranked American Rickie Fowler, one of two teams in which each member is ranked inside the world top 10, birdied two of their final four holes to card a one-under-par 71.
U.S. Masters runner-up Justin Rose and European Ryder Cup team mate Henrik Stenson, the other team in which each member is ranked inside the world top 10, were a further shot back after mixing four birdies with four bogeys.
The only other player in the field ranked inside the top 10 is Hideki Matsuyama, who is paired with Hideto Tanihara. The Japanese pair posted a 69 and were three shots off the pace.
Friday’s second round will be comprised of fourball matches in which players on each team play their own ball throughout the round, with the best score on each hole recorded.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Larry Fine)