Two teams share Zurich Classic lead at 23-under through three rounds

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AVONDALE – On a day where the weather could not have been better at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans than ever in the tournament’s history, Trey Mullinax and Scott Stallings fired a 10-under 62 in the Best Ball format Saturday to catch second round leaders Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer at TPC Louisiana.

The 26-year old Mullinax joined the PGA Tour in 2014 is but is seeking his first tour win. A member of the University of Alabama 2013 and 2014 NCAA Championship teams, Mullinax and his partner Scott Stallings from Tennessee are both looking for rare victories on the big stage. The 34-year old Stallings has found the victory circle three times since joining the tour in 2010 but is seeking his first win since 2014.

Mullinax and Stallings have combined score of 21-under par in both rounds of the best ball format but are just two under in the alternate ball format they must face in the final round Sunday.

“I don’t think it’s defensive,” Stallings said regarding the difference in alternate shot team play. “I just think you’re playing more aware of the situation. The last thing you want to do is put your partner in a rough spot.”

The team of Rahm and Palmer have proven themselves in both formats with an impressive 7-under 65 in the second round alternate shot play that should bolster their hopes for the final round. the 24-year old Rahm, a two-time winner on tour and 11th in the World Rankings, and the 42-year old veteran Palmer, a three-time tour winner, are an interesting but seemingly balanced pair.

“Actually we first met in 2015, the final round of the US Open,” Rahm recalled. “I was still an amateur. I played with Ryan. I think we each had a low round (of) 6 or 7 under to be one back of the playoff. I finished top five, which I think was one of the highlights of my college career. So we met there.”

But the four-time NCAA All-American Rahm said their became a team by chance.

“How this came along is, last year we were paired in the same group. Ryan was playing with Jordan Spieth and I was playing with Wesley Bryan. Wesley got injured and had surgery, and Jordan could not make it. We both played good last year, we know our games, we have very similar games, very similar ball flights off the tee and ball flight with the irons, so its very easy for us to get in each other’s mind and see what’s going to happen. Very comfortable with how each other played, and yeah, felt like a right fit.”

Palmer said the came together in more simple terms.

“I just sent him a text out there during Palm Springs, and I was just seeing if he was going to bite. Fortunately he did, and here we are.”

Here they are indeed, in perhaps the best position to share glory at what has become one of the tour’s most unique stops.

Third Round Leaders
T1 Scott Stallings/Trey Mullinax -23
T1 Jon Rahm/Ryan Palmer -23
3 Brandon Grace/Justin Harding -22
T4 Brian Gay/Rory Sabbatini -20
T4 Peter Malnati/Billy Hurley lll -20

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