Last year was the first year the Zurich Classic was held at the TPC Louisiana. Not long after Tim Petrovic won in an exciting playoff over James Driscoll did Hurricane Katrina come through the Gulf Coast region to cause extensive damage to the TPC. The PGA Tour has been in New Orleans since 1938 and is committed to New Orleans and the tournament so they weren't about to let Katrina stop a tournament, so this year the Zurich Classic will be returning to the English Turn Golf and Country Club once again. Since the event was held there from 1989 to 2004 it will almost feel like a welcome home to the staff of English Turn and to many of the PGA Tour players.
It seems like Tim Petrovic will be the one guy who may really miss the TPC and will attempt to defend his title at another course. Last year he didn't play well leading up to the Zurich, missing cuts at the BellSouth Classic and Verizon Heritage. Then he played the TPC like it was his backyard. With rounds of 72, 69, 66, and 68 he earned a spot in the playoff with James Driscoll. Tim ended up winning on the first extra hole.
The last champion at English Turn was Vijay Singh back in 2004. Singh is still looking to get his first win in 2006. His chance of a triple defense at the Shell Houston Open went down the drain with a third-round 75 to finish in a tie for 36th, his worst finish this year. For a man with an almost robot-like consistency, he is in quite the slump this year. But as we saw with Tim last year who was in a slump he just needed one course that suited his eye and game to help rejuvenate his game.
International players have won five of the past seven winners at English Turn and Retief Goosen is looking to cash in on that good fortune. In his last three starts on the TOUR he has done pretty well with a runner up at the Players Championship, T-4 at the BellSouth and tied for third at this year's Masters. Playing in his first Zurich Classic he is also looking for his first win of the season and with at least one win in the past five years on tour he is a safe bet to get at least one this year but will it be the Zurich?
Fans will be excited to see Phil Mickelson return to competition after winning his second Masters and third major championship. However, the sentimental favorite has got to be Louisiana native David Toms who won here in 2001 but has also missed the cut here five times and has also withdrawn once. He has missed the cut in his last few tournaments but started the season well with his win at the Sony Open and four top-10s. David has always been know as a big supporter or the community with his charitable foundation and I am sure he would love to win in his home town and give the fans a much desired celebration.
The event has only been held at three other courses in its 58 year history starting at the City Park Golf Course, Lakewood Country Club and TPC Louisiana. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the English Turn is a par 72 championship course and sets up to 7,078 yards. Large sand and waste bunkers guard many holes along with huge tiered greens to challenge the sharpest of putters but the real challenge is the water that comes into play on every hole!
Generating approximately $25 million for the local economy and up to $16 million in annual television exposure, it's a boost that New Orleans could really use. The Zurich Classic of New Orleans has a purse of $6,000,000 with $1,080,000 to the winner. It will be held at the English Turn Golf and Country Club in New Orleans, LA from April 24 - 30, 2006 and can be heard on XM Radio and seen on USA and CBS at the following times:
Thu, 4/27 12pm-8pm ET XM 146 Fri, 4/28 12pm-8pm ET XM 146 Sat, 4/29 12pm-8pm ET XM 146 Sun, 4/30 12pm-8pm ET XM 146
Thu, 4/27 4pm-6pm ET USA Fri, 4/28 4pm-6pm ET USA Sat, 4/29 3pm-6pm ET CBS Sun, 4/30 3pm-6pm ET CBS
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