Course of Action TOUR Returns to TPC Louisiana

By Associated PressApril 18, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicAVONDALE, La. -- Bill Murray ate a char-broiled Louisiana oyster as he walked toward the 18th green, then hurled the shell into a water hazard, shouting, 'Now go and grow others!'
 
He flexed his biceps after his chip up a steep embankment landed on the green, then pointed at the sky after a two-putt, his typically goofy antics amusing the gallery at a charity pro-am event preceding the PGA TOUR's latest stop at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
 
It was more than a trivial moment of levity for course officials at the TPC Louisiana, where there wasn't much to laugh about after Hurricane Katrina tore through here 19 months ago.
 
This was supposed to be the course that would secure New Orleans' spot on the PGA TOUR calendar. Instead, it hosted only one Zurich Classic before Katrina toppled about 2,000 trees along the fairways, scattered drain-clogging debris and left numerous fairways under water.
 
The public course was closed for 10 months, forcing the PGA TOUR to go back to English Turn so a rebuilding New Orleans could keep its economically vital TOUR dates in 2006. After about $2 million in repairs, even a few improvements, the pros have returned to the distinctive TPC Louisiana, a Pete Dye-designed course carved out of cypress swamp.
 
'Obviously there was some devastation here and there was a lot of money spent to get this golf course up to speed,' David Toms, a Louisiana native and 2001 winner in New Orleans, said after a practice round. 'It's very important for the whole country not to forget this city.'
 
A number of players were eager to forget this place after it hosted its first PGA TOUR event in the spring of 2005. At about 7,600 yards, the course plays long, yet presents an array of steep 'pot' bunkers and other fairway obstacles that leave little margin for error on drives.
 
'I can remember a couple of drives that I hit that I thought were decent shots ... and getting into spots where all I could do was chip out of the bunker sideways,' Toms recalled of his 2005 appearance here, when he missed the cut.
 
At the very least, it's now easier to play a shot out of the woods, which were thinned out by Katrina, and the canopy along the edges of the fairways is less likely to interrupt the flight of the ball.
 
Yet other changes have made some holes even tougher. When toppled cypress trees were hauled away, course officials saved the lumber, embedding vertical planks into what look like green and tan striped bulkheads rising from water hazards near the ninth and 17th greens. They also used the salvaged wood for new tee signs and yardage markers.
 
On the par-3 No. 9, the bulkhead replaced a bunker that had surrounded the left side of the green. So those who fall short on their 200-yard tee shots this year will likely hear the sound of the ball knocking on cypress, followed by a splash.
 
'Either you hit it where you want to hit it or the bail out on the right over there,' said Boo Weekley, last weekend's winner at Hilton Head, S.C., who arrived here tired after a spike in media appearances following his first PGA TOUR triumph.
 
The victory by Weekley, whose down-home Southern speaking style and self-effacing humor have made him an increasingly popular character on tour, was a timely one for organizers of this tournament. Some of the bigger names in golf won't be here for Thursday's opening round. No Tiger Woods. No Phil Mickelson.
 
Toms, an LSU graduate whose presence always seems to inspire shouts of 'Go Tigers' by local fans, may be the most popular player, followed perhaps by Weekley, who grew up about a three-hour drive away in the Florida panhandle. He expected about 50 friends and relatives to be in New Orleans to watch him play.
 
'I've been here a few times growing up. I love New Orleans,' Weekley said.
 
Then there's last year's winner, Chris Couch, who wasn't sure whether to consider himself the defending champion because he won on a different course. Tim Petrovic is the only player to win a TOUR event at the TPC Louisiana, and he's back in the field this year.
 
'Tim is a good buddy of mine,' Couch said. 'I told him, 'I don't know who the defending champion is this week. I think it's more you than me.''
 
In New Orleans, who makes up the field is of less interest than the fact that normalcy seems to have reclaimed yet another part of this area's storm-ravaged landscape for an event that brings worldwide attention to rebuilding efforts.
 
About 30 acres of dead turf have been nurtured back to a lush, healthy green. About 300 new trees -- 12 feet to 18 feet high now -- have been strategically planted to help restore some of the course's pre-Katrina character. The clubhouse, largely spared by the storm save a few roof leaks, has been spruced up.
 
And the local club professional, New Orleans-native Luke Farabaugh, is back to helping people enjoy the golf instead of filling out insurance documents and dealing with contract debris-removal workers.
 
'The world of golf is looking at us today, saying, 'Man, remember what happened to them 19 months ago? And look at them today,' Farabaugh said. 'It's a great sense of pride we all take.'
 
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    Pepperell among co-leaders early in Qatar

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 5:06 pm

    DOHA, Qatar – Eddie PepperellGregory Havret, and Aaron Rai made the most of calm early morning conditions at Doha Golf Club to set the pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters at 7-under-par 65 on Thursday.

    Havret went bogey free, Pepperell made one bogey and eight birdies, while fellow English golfer Rai eagled his last hole to add to five birdies.

    One shot behind the leaders were four players, including former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari of Italy and former champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain.

    Defending champion Jeunghun Wang of South Korea started with a 68, and Race to Dubai leader Shubhankar Sharma of India shot 69 despite a double bogey on the 15th hole.


    Full-field scores from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters


    Pepperell, who is fast gaining a reputation on the European Tour for his irreverent tweets and meaningful blogs, showed his clubs can also do an equal amount of talking after missing cuts in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Malaysia.

    Pepperell birdied Nos. 10, 11, 14, 16 and 18 with a single blemish on 13 after starting on the back nine. He made three more birdies on his back nine.

    He was joined on top of the leaderboard by Havret, who made five birdies in six holes from the sixth, and Rai, who eagled the last.

    ''I surprised myself, really,'' said Pepperell, who finished third in Portugal and Netherlands last year.

    ''I've made some changes this week with personnel, so I've been working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself out there with how well I managed to trust it.

    ''I hit some quality tee shots, that's the area I feel that I've been struggling with a bit lately. We had a good time.

    ''It's definitely a bigger picture for me this week than tomorrow and indeed the weekend. I'm not overly-fussed about my early season form.”

    Molinari, a three-time champion on the tour including last year in Morocco, started with eight straight pars, and then made seven birdies in his last 10 holes, including a chip-in for birdie on the last.

    ''I hit every green apart from the last one. I hit a lot of fairways, I had a lot of chances for birdie,'' said Edoardo, the older brother of Francesco.

    ''Last week in Oman, I had a decent week, I had a bad first round and then three very good rounds. It's been the case for the last few weeks so my focus this week was to try and get a good start.''

    Oliver Fisher of England was the best among the afternoon groups with a 6-under 66, joining Molinari, Quiros and Germany's Marcel Schneider in a tie for fourth.

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    Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

    By Tiger TrackerFebruary 22, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.


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    Honda Classic: Tee times, TV schedule, stats

    By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 22, 2018, 2:15 pm

    The PGA Tour heads back east to kick off the Florida Swing at PGA National. Here are the key stats and information for the Honda Classic. Click here for full-field tee times.

    How to watch:

    Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 2-6PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

    Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET

    Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: http://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6PM ET


    Purse: $6.6 million ($1,188,000 to the winner)

    Course: PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida (par-70; 7,140 yards)

    Defending champion: Rickie Fowler (-12) won by four, picking off his fourth PGA Tour victory.


    Notables in the field:

    Tiger Woods

    • Making his fourth start at the Honda Classic and his first since withdrawing with back spasms in 2014.

    • Shot a Sunday 62 in a T-2 finish in 2012, marking his lowest career final-round score on the PGA Tour.

    • Coming off a missed cut at last week's Genesis Open, his 17th in his Tour career.


    Rickie Fowler

    • The defending champion owns the lowest score to par and has recorded the most birdies and eagles in this event since 2012.

    • Fowler's last start was at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he failed to close a 54-hole lead. Fowler is 1-for-6 with 54-hole leads in his Tour career, with his only successful close coming at last year's Honda.

    • On Tour this year, Fowler is first in scrambling from the fringe, second in total scrambling and third in strokes gained around the green. 


    Rory McIlroy

    • It's been feast or famine for McIlroy at the Honda. He won in 2012, withdrew with a toothache in 2013, finished T-2 in 2014 and missed the cut in 2015 and 2016.

    • McIlroy ascended to world No. 1 with his victory at PGA National in 2012, becoming the second youngest player at 22 years old to top the OWGR, behind only Woods. McIlroy was later edged by a slightly younger 22-year-old Jordan Spieth.

    • Since the beginning of 2010, only Dustin Johnson (15) has more PGA Tour victories than McIlroy (13). 

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    Lexi, J. Korda part of four-way tie in Thailand

    By Associated PressFebruary 22, 2018, 1:01 pm

    CHONBURI, Thailand – Three-time tour winner Minjee Lee of Australia finished with a superb eagle putt to be among the four leaders after Day 1 of the LPGA Thailand at Siam Country Club on Thursday.

    Lee sank a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to card a 6-under-par 66 to tie for the lead with 2016 champion Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and local hope Moriya Jutanugarn.

    ''I just hit the collar. I didn't know if I was going to have enough. Such a big break there. I'm glad it caught the hole,'' Lee said.

    ''It's a second-shot golf course. Your approaches are really important, and obviously being in the right spots with the undulation. And if you have a hot putter that's going to help.''


    Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand


    Lee won the Vic Open near Melbourne this month and opened her 2018 LPGA tour account last week at the Women's Australian Open, finishing fifth.

    Thompson, who won this event in 2016 by six shots with a 20-under total and tied for fourth last year, started her latest round in style with an eagle followed by a birdie only to bogey the third hole. She carded four more birdies.

    ''It definitely helps to get that kind of start, but I was just trying to keep that momentum and not get ahead of myself,'' Thompson said.

    Her compatriot Korda had a roller-coaster round which featured eagles on the first and 17th holes, five birdies, a double bogey on the sixth, and two bogeys.

    Jutanugarn was the only player among the four to end the day without a bogey.

    ''I had a good start today, it was better than I expected,'' said Jutanugarn, who was seventh here last year.

    She's trying to become the first Thai winner of the tournament.

    Two-time champion Amy Yang and world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park were among six players at 5 under.