Second-round play at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans was called off Friday at 4:30 p.m. because of a threat of severe weather, PGA Tour officials said.

A tornado watch was issued by the National Weather Service for the River Parishes area just west of the TPC Louisiana layout in Avondale, causing the immediate evacuation of the course.

All 78 players in the afternoon wave were out on the course when officials ordered players and caddies to seek shelter along with spectators, who were urged to clear the grounds as quickly as possible.

Tour officials later said the second round will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday, weather permitting.

The Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner reported a fierce thunderstorm was heading toward the course with gale force winds that could reach 50 to 60 mph.

Long before the severe weather threat, former Georgia star Hudson Swafford backed up a 5-under 67 on Thursday with a 66 Friday to grab the early second-round lead at 11-under par.

First-round co-leader Boo Weekley was among the players still on the course when play was called for the day. After shooting a 64 on Thursday, he matched Swafford’s score at 11-under through 15 holes.

Brendon de Jonge, who also shot a 64 Thursday, had a 2-under 70 on Friday and was one stroke behind Swafford and Weekley at 10-under as was Cameron Tringale, who fired a 7-under 65 Friday after a first-round 69.

Jason Day, Jerry Kelly and Daniel Berger were also at 10-under, but were still on the course when play was halted.

Swafford carded three birdies on the front nine and three on the back side to finish with a second consecutive bogey-free round on the rain-softened layout.

Weekley started his second round on the back nine and had only one birdie, but had two at Nos. 2 and 3 to pull even with Swafford.

Former LSU All-Americans John Peterson and David Toms were also among the early finishers Friday.

Peterson, who shot a 70 Thursday, followed it up with a 4-under 68 Friday and was at 6-under for the tournament. Toms shot a 67 Friday after opening with an even-par 72 on Thursday and had a 36-hole score of 5-under — six off Swafford’s lead.

Peterson could have had a better round, but he missed a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 8, his 17th hole of the day, and then had a bogey at the ninth hole.

Toms got going on his second nine in the second round, picking up four birdies on his way in after sandwiching two birdies around his lone bogey of the day.

Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter @MicklesAdvocate.