New Orleans, LA – Ken Duke and Cameron Tringale both fired seven-under 65s Thursday to share the lead after the opening round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
They hold a one-stroke lead over four players at the TPC Louisiana.
Steve Stricker carded a six-under 66 and he was joined in third place by Ernie Els, Chris Stroud and Daniel Chopra.
Ben Curtis, who won in Texas last week, stands alongside John Rollins and Jason Dufner in seventh place at minus-five.
Masters champion Bubba Watson returned to action for the first time since his win at Augusta National. Watson, the defending champion, had four birdies and three bogeys in a round of one-under 71, which left him tied for 49th.
Duke, who was in the first group out off the first tee, parred his first four holes. He got on the board with a birdie on the fifth and made it two in a row as he rolled in 16-foot birdie putt on the sixth.
The 43-year-old sank a seven-footer for birdie on No. 7 to make it three straight birdies. He parred the next three around the turn.
Duke converted a birdie chance from just inside eight feet on the 11th and came right back with a long birdie putt at the 12th.
The two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour birdied the 16th from eight feet away before pitching his third to two feet at the last. Duke kicked that in for a closing birdie and a share of the lead.
"I was really looking forward to coming here. I spent sometime at home and got some rest," Duke stated. "You can't hit it four, five feet every hole because there's so many mounds on the greens. You have to take your 30-foot putt here and there."
Tringale missed the green on the third and chipped to three feet. However, he failed to make his par putt. He holed a shot for birdie from off the green at No. 6 to get back to even-par.
The California native made birdie on the seventh from just inside 10 feet. His tee shot on the par-three ninth came to rest within a foot of the hole and he kicked that in for birdie.
Around the turn, Tringale chipped his third to nine feet and drained that putt to move to three-under. He used a hot closing stretch to grab a piece of the lead.
Tringale drained a 22-footer for birdie on the 15th and came right back with an 11-foot birdie putt at 16. He got within one of the lead thanks to a seven- footer for birdie on 17. At the last, Tringale chipped to six feet and rolled that in for a closing birdie and a share of the lead.
"I got out of the gate nice, a couple pars and then on the third hole I missed the green to the right and I chipped up pretty close and just kind of misjudged the wind," Tringale stated. "But from then on, it was just fairways and I'd say greens. The truth is I missed a few, but my short game was really tidy, was always chipping it up to tap-in length and just putted the ball well."
NOTES: Both Duke and Tringale are searching for their first PGA Tour victory...Duke has had a pair of top-10 finishes this season, while Tringale has three top-10, including back-to-back eighth place ties in his last two starts.