Notes New Orleans Event Back to English Turn

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On the same day the PGA Tour announced sweeping changes to the schedule under the 2007-10 television contract, it quietly released the 2006 schedule that featured only minor movement'and one uncertainty.
 
Where to play the Zurich Classic of New Orleans?
 
The TPC of Louisiana was hammered by Hurricane Katrina, and commissioner Tim Finchem said the course will not be ready for the April 27-30 tournament. Instead, it is headed back to English Turn Golf & Country Club, where it had been played the previous 16 years.
 
Were about to get this done, Finchem said. Were in discussions with English Turn. We cant play the TPC in April. Its just too much work.
 
An announcement is expected as early as this week.
 
Finchem said English Turn lost several trees, as did most golf courses in the area, but otherwise was in pretty good shape and primarily needed overseeding of the grass. That wasnt the case at the TPC of Louisiana.
 
We lost 40 percent of our turf, Finchem said. We could overseed, but its going to die, anyway. The agronomists tell us theres no way.
 
The Zurich Classic still figures to be a big week. With the Saints having moved to San Antonio and Baton Rouge, La., for the rest of the season, the Hornets playing their NBA home games in Oklahoma City and the Sugar Bowl moving to Atlanta this year, tournament director John Subers said the Zurich Classic will be the first major sporting event in New Orleans post-Katrina.
 
We want to use that week to tell the story about the future of New Orleans, to showcase it, Finchem said. We definitely will use it as a way to think about it'not so much look back to Katrina, but looking forward.
 
VIEW FROM AUGUSTA
While the players might find Augusta National to be more tough, it should be easier for spectators to watch the Masters next April.
 
While pushing the par-3 fourth tee back some 40 yards, the club removed enough trees to allow more fans to see the third green, regarded as one of the best short par 4s in golf. The 11th tee also was pushed back, but now there is some 20 yards of open space for fans to watch the tee shots.
 
And those perched behind the 10th green can also watch players tee off on the par-5 15th.
 
Perhaps the biggest difference is No. 7, stretched some 40 yards. Previously, spectators could not get back to the tee box. Now there is a large area to the right of the tee where a maintenance shed once stood. It was so dense back there, that few people realized there even was a maintenance shed.
 
As for the first tee, which nearly adjoins the practice green?
 
Spectators no longer will be able to walked behind the tee, but it is far enough back that views from the balcony of the clubhouse will not be obstructed by the large oak tree.
 
FAXON ON THE MEND
Dont count out Brad Faxon for the season-opening Mercedes Championships.
 
Faxon, who became eligible for Kapalua when he won the Buick Championship at Hartford, had surgery to repair ligaments in his right knee Sept. 13. His doctor told him the recovery would be four to six months.
 
Hes closer to six, Faxon said. Im closer to four.
 
Faxon, at the Tour Championship to receive the Payne Stewart Award, said he was ahead of schedule. He was on crutches for six weeks, but doctors like his motion and muscle tone.
 
The Mercedes Championships starts Jan. 5, which will be 16 weeks and two days from his surgery. Asked if he would be on Maui, Faxon replied, Im going to do everything in my power.
 
If the first shot I hit after surgery is Thursday (of the tournament), Im happy with that, he said.
 
Faxon, who lives in Rhode Island, usually takes the winter off and goes to either Florida or California a week before the season to get ready. The only issue might be the hilly terrain of the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
 
And if hes ready for Kapalua, the temptation will be to stay an extra week for the Sony Open at Waialae, where Faxon won in 2001. The goal all along was to be ready for one of Faxons favorite tournaments, the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which starts Feb. 9.
 
GLORY DAYS
For those who believe the golf ball is solely responsible for distance gains, the pro-am at the Chrysler Championship showed other factors at work.
 
The wooden driver, for example.
 
As the PGA Tour reached a conclusion to its Drive to a Billion charity campaign, it had five persimmons drivers available on the first tee and asked players to give it a crack, then use their titanium drivers for the shot that counted on their pro-am scorecard.
 
Adam Scott hit it pure, a majestic ball flight with a slight draw to the middle of the fairway. Out came his Titleist titanium driver'same golf ball, by the way'and another beautiful swing. Stepping it off, it was 32 yards longer.
 
Davis Love III also ripped the wooden driver. His modern driver sent the ball 40 yards longer.
 
CRUNCHING NUMBERS
A record 26 players averaged at least 300 yards in driving distance on the PGA Tour this year, up from 14 a year ago.
 
The leader was Scott Hend at 318.2 yards, which was nearly 60 yards more than last-place Corey Pavin.
 
But for those who think power is the answer on the PGA Tour, some degree of skill is required. Of the top four players in driving distance, Tiger Woods (second at 316.1 yards) is the only one who finished in the top 125 on the money list. The others were Brett Wetterich and Scott Gutschewski.
 
DIVOTS
Deb Richard, a five-time winner on the LPGA Tour who retired earlier this year, has been named senior vice president of golf for the LPGA. She will approve courses that are used and how they are set up. ... A week after the Masters, the Golf Club of Georgia will host the U.S. College Championship with 12 top teams. Georgia Tech and Georgia will have permanent spots, joined by 10 teams from the Golfweek/Sagrin College Rankings. ... The USGA will not adopt the local rule allowing for distance-measuring devices at its championships or qualifying rounds in 2006.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Chris DiMarco set a PGA Tour record for most money ($3,562,548) without winning.
 
FINAL WORD
Probably the longest courses on the LPGA Tour. - Scott Verplank, when asked on which golf courses Michelle Wie would have the most success.
 
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