A birdie festival in a festive city as The PGA Tour heads to New Orleans for The Zurich Classic.. and we're jazzed about that! Join us as we go through the betting odds and share our free play.
New Orleans is affectionately known by many as "The Big Easy" and this week on The PGA Tour is exactly that. The golfers are very well taken care of by this town known for its good times, great food, and hospitable demeanor. The golfers are also well taken care of by a very "Big Easy" golf course as while TPC Louisiana may be big and long it too produces some of the lowest scores of the year.
Justin Rose is your Zurich Classic defending champion, turning in card of 22-under par last season. The course ranked 49th hardest on Tour in 2015, meaning only 3-tracks were easier, as the scoring average for the field was under 70. There is not a lot of rhyme or reason as to why or who wins here at TPC Louisiana and there have been many first time Tour winners here - but one will definitely have to go low. The tournament is in its 67th year but this course will be hosting its 11th edition and if you look at the past winners, they include Nick Watney, Jerry Kelly, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Billy Horschel, and the aforementioned, Rose. Both big hitters and short knockers have prevailed.. but the one element or skill set they do have in common is Ball Striking and the ability to hit greens in regulation.
Pete Dye designed TPC Louisiana and did so by bringing a great deal of water and sand bunkers into play but the fairways are relatively wide and the greens are of Tour average size. What we will look for this week to rise to the top, is a player that is driving and striking the ball well, hitting greens in regulation, and gets hot with the putter. Birdie opportunities and birdie opportunities converted will be paramount this week - just to keep up with the pace.
Jason Day +500 at 888Sports - The number one player in the world finished 23rd two weeks ago at another Pete Dye design, Harbour Town Golf Links, for the RBC Heritage but my feeling is that Day is much more concerned about another Dye course coming up in two weeks, TPC Sawgrass, for The Players. Obviously he has the ability though to lap the field in what is one of the weakest of the season.
Justin Rose +800 at Ladbrokes - Rose is one of the best ball strikers in the world and he proved that with a win here last year. Prior to his win in 2015, Rose finished 8th, 15th, and 10th here in consecutive seasons.
Rickie Fowler +1000 at PaddyPower - This will be the first return to action for the 5th ranked player in the world since his utter disappointment at The Masters where he missed the cut and came up grossly short of expectations. Rickie will be defending his title at The Players in two weeks and I have to believe he will be working hard this week to get his game back in order.
Billy Horschel +2000 at 888Sports - Horschel won here in 2013 and has always been known as a top ball striker. He had a great week last week, finishing 4th at The Valero, and a 17th at The Masters two weeks before that. If he can get hot with his putter, he should be in the mix.
Daniel Berger +2500 at 888Sports - The 47th ranked player in the world comes into New Orleans playing extremely well. He finished 5th at Houston, the week before Augusta, and then turned in another Top 10 at The Masters. He finished 6th here last year in his very first ever appearance.
Smylie Kaufman +3300 at BetVictor All smiles indeed this week as Kaufman is very familiar with these parts. Growing up in Alabama and attending LSU, Smylie should be able to dial up plenty of birdies this week in what will be his first time competing in The Zurich. He ranks 13th on Tour in Birdie Average.
The Long Shots
Cameron Tringale +5000 at Coral - Tringale has made three straight cuts heading in after missing the cut in three of the four prior weeks, and his game may be coming into form at just the right time. This is a course that apparently suits him as he ranks second best in relation to par on this course since 2012.
Sean O'Hair +8000 at William Hill - If stats were all that mattered, O'Hair would not be an 80-to-1 shot to win this week. He checks all of the boxes for Ball Striking, Putting, Scoring, Greens in Regulation.. but we'll see if he can put that into practice. He did last year in New Orleans, finishing 12th.
David Hearn +1000 at Bet365 - Only a couple shots behind, Tringale, David Hearn ranks 3rd here in relation to par since 2012. He hasn't missed a cut in five tries at The Zurich and finished 6th here last season.
The risk here is that it is Kizzire's first time playing this event but as we mentioned, TPC Louisiana has had a history of crowning first time winners. He stands 6-feet 5-inches tall and putts lights out. HIs ball striking could be better but he ranks 11th in Scoring and 20th in Birdie Average. He fired a couple of 69's at Pete Dye's Stadium Course in La Quinta earlier this season and just finished 14th two weeks ago at Dye's Harbour Town course. The youngster ought to be plenty familiar with this course too, attending Auburn University and growing up in nearby Alabama. I'll go with the big kid in The Big Easy as my betting pick.
Golf Pick: Patton Kizzire +5500 at Bet365