The PGA Tour heads away from the Eastern Seaboard this week to Louisiana for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Jerry Kelly defends the title.
One of the oldest events on the PGA Tour, the New Orleans Open was first contested in 1939. Over the years the tournament has produced a diverse selection of victors – eight different nations have been represented in the winner’s circle over the last 20 years. Given the cultural melting pot that is the city of New Orleans, such variation seems appropriate.
Last season Jerry Kelly fought back from a mid-round stumble to beat Charles Howell III, Rory Sabbatini and Charlie Wi by a stroke, ending a seven year winless streak on the PGA Tour.
TPC Louisiana was altered dramatically by original designer Pete Dye after the 2005 tournament. Bucking the modern trend, the majority of his alterations involved shortening holes and adding hazards to demand a more strategic approach.
It’s a strong field this week and England is, once again, well represented. Ian Poulter is joined in the field by Justin Rose, Greg Owen and Brian Davis – fresh off a playoff defeat in last week’s Verizon Heritage.
Venue: TPC Louisiana, Louisiana
Date: Apr 22-25
Course stats: par 72, 7,341 yards
Purse: $6,200,000 Winner: $1,116,000
Defending Champion: Jerry Kelly (-14)
Thursday 22 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Friday 23 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Saturday 24 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm
Sunday 25 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm
Charles Howell III – Runner-up last year, Howell has a great record in this event. He’s showing consistent form in 2010 and it’s about time he stepped into the winner’s circle.
Steve Stricker – The top ranked player in the field, Stricker is a threat in every tournament he enters. He’s making his 12th straight start in the event and finished seventh here last year.
Brian Davis – After calling the penalty on himself and losing the playoff at Hilton Head last week, the Englishman will be keen to bounce back strongly. He’s renowned as a streaky golfer and he’s playing great at the moment.
Key hole: 6th. A 476 yard par 4 that requires a long straight drive before the hole turns straight left to leave a long iron or fairway wood to the green. This was the toughest hole on the course in 2009.
Skills required: Course management. The winner will carefully plot his way round this re-designed layout. Bludgeoning it with the driver is not always the most prudent option.