As it turns out, Jason Dufner won his first PGA Tour event last year in The Big Easy, and won in a playoff at The Zürich Classic against The Big Easy. It took Dufner over eight years and 164 PGA starts, but he beat Ernie Els in a playoff for his first win on the tour. Els made up three shots in the final round at TPC Louisiana, his closing 67 forced Dufner into a playoff.
World number 4, Justin Rose joins Dufner as two of only six players in the top 25 players set to tee it up on Thursday at the 7425 yard par 72 TPC Louisiana golf course, located just West of New Orleans. It was designed in 2004 by Pete Dye, and rambles along the Mississippi River Delta near New Orleans. The Zurich Classic was played for many years at English Turn, and forced back there in 2005 due to flooding. The course is considered one of the 10 easiest layouts on the PGA Tour.
14-year-old Tianlang Guan, who became the youngest player to ever make the cut at the Masters two weeks ago was given a sponsor’s exemption for The Zurich Classic, and will be in the field this week. This should give fans an opportunity to see the youngster from China perform in a normal tournament away from the pressure cooker that is Augusta during Masters week.
The 72 hole record for the tournament of 262 was set by Chip Beck in 1988 when the tournament was played at Lakewood Country Club. The TPC record is 269 set by Dufner and Els last year. The 18 hole records were 61, Paul Stankowski (1st round, 2001 at English Turn G&CC). TPC Louisiana record: 64, Kyle Reifers (1st round, 2007), Troy Matteson (2nd round, 2009), Dean Wilson (2nd round, 2011), Greg Chalmers (2nd round, 2012), Russell Knox (2nd round, 2012), Ryan Palmer (3rd round, 2012).
Although Jason Dufner followed his win in New Orleans last year with a victory at The Byron Nelson, he has always played well here. When he tees of this week, he will be looking to become the fifth man to win back-to-back in New Orleans, and hasn’t finished outside the top 10 in his past four visits. He tied for third in 2011, seventh a year earlier and ninth in 2009. … Els has three top-3 finishes in six starts in New Orleans, though last year was the first time he had played TPC Louisiana. … Five of the past eight champions made New Orleans their first PGA TOUR win, a trend that seems strong again with so few highly ranked participants. … Former champ David Toms, whose 2001 win preceded a PGA Championship title, will play his home-state event for the 20th time.
After a tie for ninth place at The RBC Heritage last week, Camilo Villegas will play again this weekend in New Orleans as he looks to turn around the nightmare that has been his golf game for the past two and a half years. Villegas had another horrible start to the season in 2013 with missed cuts in three straight tournaments including the Honda Classic where he shot an opening round 64. He followed on Friday with a 77, and didn’t make the weekend.
The 31 year-old Columbian, and Florida Gator is showing some promise after finishing in the top 25 at Bay Hill, and again last week at Harbor Town.
Television coverage of The Zürich Classic will begin Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. EDT (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
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