Golf: It's not a skins game, but Rose sheds his trousers anyway; Chinese duo are surprise joint leaders

Justin Rose stripped down to his underwear to hit out of a water hazard at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 26, 2018.
Justin Rose stripped down to his underwear to hit out of a water hazard at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on April 26, 2018.PHOTO: TWITTER/PGA TOUR

(REUTERS) - Justin Rose ignored the local alligator population and stripped down to his underwear to hit out of a water hazard at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Thursday (April 26).

When the Olympic golf champion's tee shot at the par-three third hole finished partly submerged at TPC Louisiana, he decided the ball was playable, and bared some skin in an attempt to blast it onto the green.

With partner Henrik Stenson jokingly sticking a hand towards the lens of the nearby TV camera to block the view, the Briton shed his trousers, shoes and socks before taking his stance with his right foot in the water, and his left on dry land.

His recovery shot succeeded in finding the green.

The tournament's surprise joint leaders were China's Zhang Xinjun and Dou Zecheng, who belied their low world rankings and picked off birdies at their final three holes to tie for the lead.

The first two players from China to earn PGA Tour membership looked at home with the game's elite as they carded 12-under-par 60 in the four ball (best ball) format at TPC Louisiana.

The bespectacled Dou ran in a 30-foot putt for birdie at the last as the pair joined American duo Lucas Glover and Chez Reavie in the lead, while six other teams shot 62.

The only official event on the PGA Tour with a team format, the Zurich Classic uses four ball in the first and third rounds, and (alternate shot) foursomes in the second and final rounds.

Dou, 21, is ranked 476th in the world. He became the first player from China to win on the PGA Tour's secondary Web.com Tour when he captured the Digital Ally Open last year.

Zhang, 30, is a two-time PGA Tour China winner, and is that tour's all-time leading money winner. He is ranked 301st in the world.

Rose's "stripping" act perhaps was inspired by Stenson, who nine years ago showed even more skin in a similar attempt to play from a water hazard at a World Golf Championships event at Doral in Florida.

Unlike Rose, the Swede even removed his shirt, leaving himself in just a pair of white underpants before taking his shot.

"My partner showed me what you've got to do," Rose joked. "Remember Doral? He's not scared of taking his pants off, so he said get in there."

Rose and Stenson combined to shoot 65.

Rose was more adventurous than American Talor Gooch, who found three alligators nearby after his ball found a bunker at the 18th hole.

Two of the reptiles responded to a nudge from a rake and returned to the adjacent pond, but the third would not budge, which led to a ruling.

Gooch was allowed a free drop in the bunker, but his ball plugged.

He considered that a reasonable outcome under the circumstances.

"I chose life over a good lie in that situation," he told Golf Channel.