From the windy Texas tundra to the Louisiana bayou, we’re trading in our cowboy boots for a pair of mud boots and some alligators. Off to New Orleans we go for the 2016 Zurich Classic.
As far as history, the Zurich Classic has been a respected stop on the Tour for the better part of 80 years. Having hosted some of the Tour’s greats, this has become a cherished event of the south. Billy Casper won the final event of his PGA Tour career here, his 51st career win, in 1975. Casper passed away last year.
Also, for a fun bit of history– in 1984, Mac O’Grady was accused of telling a female volunteer worker at the USF&G tournament in New Orleans that it “was the worst run and most unorganized tournament on the tour.” He was fined $1,000 for “conduct unbecoming a professional.”
Hopefully they’ve got their s*** together by now.
Anyways, let’s dive into the preview.
Last Year’s Zurich Top-10
Full 2016 Field at the Zurich
— Zurich (@ZurichNAnews) April 24, 2016
Past 5 Winners at the Zurich
- 2015: Justin Rose
- 2014: Seung-Yul Noh
- 2013: Billy Horschel
- 2012: Jason Dufner
- 2011: Bubba Watson
Every few years, this event produces a really odd winner. 2006 Chris Couch? Carlos Franco back-to-back 1999-2000?
— Troy Klongerbo (@troyklongerbo) April 25, 2016
— Ben Crane (@bencranegolf) April 25, 2016
Are we looking at a Tuesday finish with the storms listed above?
Steady heat and some precipitation will keep the course soft enough to make it very scorable. I’d be very surprised if the players didn’t get to 20-under par again this year.
Course Overview: TPC Louisiana
Historically, I think I’ve used the word “birdie bonanza” to describe this course a few different times. Hey, Pete Dye is giving away birdies so the pros should be happy, right?
The course at the TPC LA suffered some Hurricane Katrina flooding in 2005 and was forced to move venues (back to the previous venue), otherwise this has been a TPC event for the better part of a decade.
One of the easiest courses on Tour, the hundreds of bunkers and water hazards are not a deterrent for the players on Tour.
8 of the 10 winners at TPC Louisiana ended that season ranked 47th or better in Proximity from 200+ yards.
— Timothy Frank (@FantasyGolfMan) April 25, 2016
— TPC Louisiana (@TPCLouisiana) April 25, 2016
This Week’s Picks
Three from the Fairway (Contenders)
1. Justin Rose
I had Justin as my winner in my 2015 preview (nailed it!), and I can’t help but insert him into my lineups this week.
Since 2012, he’s been inside the top-15 each year at the TPC Louisiana, including his win last year. With three top-10s in his last 7 starts on Tour, Rose’s play of late has been fine, if not spaced out considerably. Three of his past 4 weeks have been off weeks.
But I think the rest plays into the hands of the 10th ranked player in the world.
Check out these stats on Justin Rose:
Are there even 5 players in the world who you’d trade statistics with than Rose? Gotta take the guy this week…
To par: -60 (1st)
Sc Avg: 68.3 (1st)
Rds in 60s: 13 (1st)
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) April 25, 2016
— GOLF.com (@golf_com) April 25, 2016
2. Cameron Tringale
He’s a horse for the course, similar to Mr. Charley Hoffman last week.
In 5 of his past 6 trips here, he’s been a top-30 finisher and two of his last 4 have been top-10 finishes. He almost won last year, finishing 2nd. Given that he’s made the cut in his last three starts and has a great track record here, Tringale is a player I like a lot this week.
And maybe he’ll be fired up that one of his best buddies Rickie Fowler, didn’t invite him to #SB2K16?
Tringale for a top-20 finish.
3. David Hearn
Should I have him in my sleeper category instead of contenders? Oh, well.
Hearn is a guy to take a look at this week and there are a few reasons why.
- Hearn hasn’t finished outside the top-50 here in 5 straight years
- Hearn finished inside top-15 last week at Valero
- Hearn is 8th in proximity to the hole on approach shots this year
Every player with at least 4 starts at the Zurich Classic has been cut at least once … Except … Wait for it … David Hearn.
— B Daddy Long Strokin (@golfwager69) April 25, 2016
Really really close this week. Thanks for all the support! Looking forward to keeping it going next week in NOLA! #OnToTheNextOne
— David Hearn (@HearnDavid) April 24, 2016
He’s a guy to consider this week heading into NOLA. Like I said, maybe more of a sleeper, but he’s a player I am trusting in my lineups until he proves me otherwise.
More Contenders to Consider
- Jason Day: Talent, talent, talent. Need no reasons.
- Boo Weekley: Two top-10s in his past three starts here
- D.A. Points: Top top-15s in his past three starts here
One from the Rough (Sleepers)
Harold Varner III
Having never played this golf course in a tournament round, Varner is the epitome of the “sleeper” grounds, this week. Feel like rolling the dice? Feel like hitting that driver off the deck from 255-yards into the wind? Then go with HVIII this week.
Last week at the Valero was a great week for Varner, registering his first top-10 of 2016. Given his stature at 5’8″, you wouldn’t think of Varner as a player with power, but check yourself– Varner is averaging almost 304 per pop (16th on Tour), distance that should aid him on this week’s gettable par-5s.
Last week was the first week since the Valspar that HVIII averaged positive strokes with his flat stick and I see him riding out the momentum this week.
Going with HVIII for a top-25 finish in LA.
The Man With the Trophy
Into the winner’s circle comes Daniel Berger…
Berger’s had a great start to his 2015-2016 season.
Top-10s in his last two starts after nursing a sore wrist, he’s also a semi-horse for this week at the TPC Louisiana. He made his first career appearance here last year and comfortably notched a top-10, carding 21 birdies in his 72 holes.
Statistically, Berger is a fantastic player from 200+ yards, and when referencing the players here who’ve had success, many of them are great long iron players. From 200-225 yards, Berger is 16th on the Tour in proximity.
Given his length, his capability for birdies, and the fact that first time winners are a thing here, I have Berger as the horse to beat this week.
A FSU Seminole grad, he’ll make a lot of the gators uneasy in the Bayou.
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