Music food and fun at New Orleans stop


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2007 Zurich ClassicNEW ORLEANS ' Jerry Kelly hit the 10th hole at the TPC Louisiana hungry for much more than a win. Just over halfway through Wednesdays Pro-Am at the Zurich Classic, Kelly knew what he needed before finishing the back nine: three dozen char-grilled oysters.
Some of the other tournaments serve pretty good food, Kelly said, but nothing like this. This is gastronomic heaven.
The tournament has taken on some of the attributes ' good food and get-down music ' that have made the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival beginning Friday a fan favorite.
Andres Romero
Andres Romero captured his first PGA Tour title at this event last year. (Getty Images)
Cuisine, everything from alligator on a stick to beignets, has become a big part of the tournaments advertising package. The food is available to fans at the tournament around the course and, for a $175 tab, at the Champions Club, where a dozen top restaurants dish up specialties.
Still, its not all food and fun: Beginning Thursday, its down to business players wanting a piece of the $6.3 million purse. The winner will leave with $1.1 million.
This is only the fourth time the Zurich Classic has been played at the TPC Louisiana. The course opened in 2005, only to be flooded in Hurricane Katrina. The classic returned in 2007 and has had a first-time PGA Tour winner every time, including Andres Romero last year.
I didnt find any difference, the Argentinian said of the course Wednesday. The only difference is my game. Im not with the confidence that I was last year when I played here.
Romeros victory came in just his 12th PGA Tour start. He made the cut in all four majors and finished tied for eighth at the Masters and seventh at the PGA Championship and was voted the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
The tournament will feature 10 of the top 20 money leaders, 10 of the top 20 year-to-date FedExCup leaders, and 30 players who have won tournaments in the past two years.
Kenny Perry highlights the field, making his first start since losing in a three-way playoff at the Masters Tournament.
The Zurich hasnt attracted many big name players since Katrina, though it has generated loyalty among many ' Steve Elkington, Scott Verplank and K.J. Choi among them ' who compete regularly in New Orleans.
Food is a big part of the local culture. And its a big part of the Zurich Classic.
If oysters dont fill the stomach, players could have crawfish etoufee from Galatoires Restaurant on the fourth hole. Barbecue shrimp and grits from Pascals Manale Restaurant on the sixth. Crab and crawfish cake with a jalapeno cheese biscuit from the Pelican Club on the seventh.
I went to Dragos Monday night, NOLA last night, said Kelly, who is playing in his 10th tournament in New Orleans. And my good friend Branford Marsalis is taking me somewhere special tonight.
Kelly said his personal best for grilled oysters was 58, which he couldnt match on Wednesday. But three dozen was enough to make the back nine pass in a haze.
I knew what would happen, but I couldnt stop myself, Kelly said. The food here is unbelievable.
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