Toms TOUR Back in the Big Easy

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 17, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 Zurich ClassicFollowing a one-year hiatus while the club recovered from damage it suffered during Hurricane Katrina, the TPC Louisiana will once again host the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this week.
 
The course re-opened last July 15, more than two months after English Turn Golf & Country Club hosted the 2006 event, and is now scheduled as the venue at least through next year.
 
David Toms
David Toms will be hoping to play well in his native Louisiana. (WireImage)
At English Turn last season, Chris Couch became the fourth player in PGA TOUR history to win a tournament after making the cut on the number. He did it in dramatic fashion, too, by chipping in for par from 55 feet on the 72nd hole to hold off Fred Funk and Charles Howell III.
 
Couch's first PGA TOUR win came one day before his 33rd birthday. His $1.08 million check -- almost three times his previous career earnings -- made for a nice present.
 
'I just saw that first-place check,' he said afterward. 'It hasn't sunk in yet, but it is absolutely amazing.'
 
Couch is back in the field to defend his title. He will be among five of the last seven tournament winners, including two-time champion Carlos Franco, a back-to-back winner in 1999-2000 who finished fifth in last week's Nationwide Tour event.
 
Vijay Singh and K.J. Choi are the only champions from the last eight years who will not appear this weekend.
 
As usual, GOLF CHANNEL will broadcast coverage of the first two rounds, while CBS will cover the weekend. Next week is the Byron Nelson Championship, where Brett Wetterich earned his first PGA TOUR win last year.
 
But as for this week, the following is a list of players to keep an eye on down in New Orleans.
 
David Toms
It's an emotional week and event for the 40-year-old Toms as he is a Louisiana native, a former golf star at LSU, and his own charitable foundation does a lot of work around the city, especially in the aftermath of Katrina. It's been a mixed bag for Toms as far as results go here in Louisiana. In 14 starts, Toms has missed the cut five times but has also been fortunate enough to visit the winner's circle, his win coming in 2001. Toms is 38th on the PGA TOUR money list and is coming off a ninth-place finish at the Masters.
 
Chris Couch
Chris Couch celebrates after holing a chip shot to win the Zurich Classic. (WireImage)
Chris DiMarco
DiMarco has played in this event on 11 different occasions and has quite the roller-coaster of results. He has missed the cut three times and has finished outside the top-50 twice more, but also has four top-10 efforts including a tie for third in 2005, when he just missed out of a playoff by one stroke. He currently sits a disappointing 108th on the money list, but could have another good week here in New Orleans to get his 2007 season turned around.
 
Fred Funk
The 50-year-old Funk already has two wins this season, one on the Champions Tour and one on the PGA TOUR at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico in late February. He's coming off another solid showing against the younger set at the Heritage with a T-21 and currently sits 34th on the money list. Not surprisingly, he leads the TOUR in the driving accuracy department and comes to New Orleans after a tie for second last year.
 
Chris Couch
Coming into the last year's Zurich Classic, Couch had posted a missed cut and a WD in his first two attempts. But, as they say, the third time is a charm. Couch, who made the cut on the number last year, became the fourth player in PGA TOUR history to make the cut on the number, then go on to win the title. And he did so in dramatic fashion by holing a 55-foot chip to win by a stroke.
 
Steve Flesch
Flesch has had a somewhat lackluster year thus far to date, but is returning to the site of one of his two career TOUR victories. Flesch fired a pair of weekend 65s back in 2003 to get into a playoff with Bob Estes and a birdie on the first extra hole gave the left-handed Flesch his maiden TOUR title. He also has a couple of runner-up finishes in this event as well a one other top-10.
 
Here are four others to watch for:
 
Lucus Glover
Glover has had great success the past two years in New Orleans with a tie for seventh last year and a tie for third in 2005. He has four top-20s so far in '07, including a T-4 at the PODS Championship.
 
Joe Durant
The solid ball-striking Durant has a good and consistant record in this event over the past seven years, racking up four top-11 showings, including his tie for fourth last season.
 
Stephen Leaney
Leaney had a decent effort here a year ago in only his first appearance with a tie for 31st. The Aussie native, however, is coming off a great week at the Heritage where he ended up in solo third. Look for him to remain hot.
 
Sean O'Hair
After missing five of his first six cuts this season, O'Hair has turned the corner and comes in playing quite well in his recent events. Back-to-back 14th-place finishes followed by a seventh in Hilton Head has O'Hair coming in with some confidence.
 
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    Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

    John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

    The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

    That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

    He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.