Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Mini-verde Bermudagrass with Poa trivialis; 5,700 square feet on average.
Rough: Tif-sport Bermudagrass at 2”
Water Hazards: 5
Course Architect: Pete Dye (2003)
Winner’s Share: $1,224,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Billy Horschel held off D.A. Points to win by one shot for his first TOUR victory.
Dates: April 24-27
Notes: 155 players this week with the top 70 and ties making the cut.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the 19 of 23 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every and now Matt Kuchar have cashed for the red, white and blue. Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have accounted for the other four victories. We’re still waiting for Europe to hit the board. Let’s hope they’re not building this up for the majors and Ryder Cup.
Matt Jones joined Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler and Chesson Hadley as the first-time winners this season with his victory over Kuchar at the SHO. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had six in 23 events so far in 2014. Ben Martin gave it a shot this week but finished just short (T3).
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. The last three weeks have found first-time winners and they have all been in their 30s. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, won over the last three weeks before Watson chalked up win No. 2 of the season. Matt Kuchar, 35, joins this list this week as he racks up his seventh career win.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board.
The Old Guys were led by Jim Furyk who was right in the action after 66 on Friday but his 71-70 saw him drop to T7. John Senden is lonely as he’s the only 40-something to lift the trophy this season.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
The TOUR returns to New Orleans for the 55th edition of the Zurich Classic.
Gamers, this tournament has been held at TPC Louisiana in 2005, 2007-2013. Any other historical data is just that, historical.
Since moving to TPC Louisiana in 2005, there have been FIVE first time winners in just eight events. Tim Petrovic (2005), Nick Watney (2007), Andres Romero (2008), Jason Dufner (2012) and Billy Horschel last year lifted their first trophies on TOUR here.
Romero is the only player to win on their maiden voyage around TPC Louisiana.
Petrovic and Romero have posted the “highest” winning score at 13-under-par, 275. Billy Horschel set the tournament record last year by posting 20-under, 268.
The course record at TPC Louisiana is 64 and that’s what Horschel closed with on Sunday to set the tournament record last year. Russell Knox, Greg Chalmers and Ryan Palmer, who are also in the field this week, shot 64 here in 2012.
In two of the last three editions, the tournament record has been set as Jason Dufner and Ernie Els both posted 269 in 2012 followed by Horschel’s 268 last year. Horschel, on Sunday, made six birdies in a row. Six. On Sunday.
In two of the last three editions, the winner has emerged from a playoff as Bubba Watson defeated Webb Simpson in 2011 and Dufner defeated Els in 2012.
No champ has defended and only once has the defender finished inside the top 20 since moving to TPC Louisiana.
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14 season. Only Reed has a chance to equal Walker’s three wins as he’s the only one of this triumvirate that is playing this week.
This is the last chance to hit the OWGR top 50 and gain entry into THE PLAYERS. Next week, only the WINNER will move on to Sawgrass.
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
Carlos Franco (remember him!?!) was the last player to defend his title in 2000. Since it wasn’t played at TPC Louisiana and he’s not playing, this will win you a bar bet and that’s it.
2005: Tim Petrovic -13 (not entered in 2014)
2007: Nick Watney -15
2008: Andres Romero --13
2009: Jerry Kelly -14
2010: Jason Bohn -18
2011: Bubba Watson -15
2012: Jason Dufner -19
2013: Billy Horschel -20
Inside the Ropes
The TOUR sashays into the New Orleans area this week for the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana. For the second week in a row the players on TOUR will face a Pete Dye design but this one will be just a little different than the one they saw last week at Harbour Town.
With help from New Orleans native and former TOUR pro Kelly Gibson and multiple major champion Steve Elkington, Pete Dye’s TPC Louisiana fits right in to the New Orleans’ way of life: Easy. Sure, there are the trademark visual tricks and tiered greens but at the end of the day this is a resort course designed with average player in mind.
TOUR players start to lick their chops when they see only two inches of rough, wide fairways and the Stimpmeter rolling at 11’ and that’s what they’ll get this week. Dye works in his usual doglegs, waste bunkers and water but the last two years around this track have seen the tournament record broken by two, first-time winners. As I also pointed out earlier, five of the eight winners here have been first-timers so that tells gamers that it’s not very hard to adapt around here and course history is hardly at the top of the list this week.
D.A. Points made TWO bogeys last year and did not win the tournament.
Who makes only two bogeys at a PGA TOUR event?
Who makes only TWO bogeys at a TOUR event and DOESN’T win???
This week, I’m looking for guys who are excellent iron players because Dye courses are notoriously second-shot courses. Unlike Harbour Town where accuracy was rewarded, there is plenty of room to blast driver over this 7,400 yard track because of the light rough. With four par fives and a 16-under as the average winning score, gamers will hold on tight as these conditions open the field even wider this week.