This week marks the 24th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as the Tour heads to the Crescent City for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. A field of 144 players will tee it up this week at TPC Louisiana, where the winner will have to go low to conquer the field.
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Billy Horschel returns to defend the title he won last year by one shot over D.A. Points. Here are 10 players to watch this week in New Orleans:
1. Justin Rose: The reigning U.S. Open champ has a pair of top-15 finishes in his last three starts, including a T-14 result two weeks ago at Augusta National. Rose also has a pair of top-15 finishes in his last two trips to New Orleans, and six of his last eight rounds at TPC Louisiana have been in the 60s.
2. Rickie Fowler: Fowler is making his first start since a tie for fifth at the Masters, and he seems comfortable in the Crescent City. Fowler has cracked the top 40 each of the past three years in this event, including a T-10 finish in 2012 that featured a second-round 65. He also finished sixth three weeks ago at the Shell Houston Open.
3. Graham DeLaet: The Canadian nearly made the cut at Augusta National despite an opening-round 80, and DeLaet tied for fourth in NOLA in 2012. This tournament has been kind to first-time winners, and DeLaet is certainly overdue to enter the winner's circle. Ranks second on Tour in ball-striking and third in GIR percentage.
4. Kevin Stadler: Stadler surprised with a T-8 in his Masters debut, then followed with a solid T-38 at Harbour Town. He's missed only one cut since his breakthrough win in Phoenix, and is now 10th on Tour in total driving and 12th in birdie average. Last year he tied for eighth behind a third-round 65.
5. Keegan Bradley: Bradley surprisingly missed the cut at the Masters, but his 2014 campaign has otherwise been solid, with seven top-25 finishes in 12 starts. He missed the cut at TPC Louisiana each of the last two years but was T-26 in 2011 and currently ranks 11th on Tour in birdie average.
6. George McNeill: McNeill is making his first start since Bay Hill, but comes in off five straight top-20 finishes dating back to February. McNeill tied for sixth in NOLA in 2011 and followed that with a T-24 result the following year, and he is among the Tour leaders in scrambling (15th) and scoring average (19th).
7. Ryan Palmer: Palmer has four top-10 finishes this season, including a pair of runner-ups. He's no stranger to low scores - currently fourth on Tour in birdie average - and tied for fourth at TPC Louisiana in 2012. He's also currently third on Tour in the all-around ranking.
8. J.B. Holmes: Holmes continues to have a strong comeback from the disabled list, and his T-18 at the RBC Heritage was his third top-20 finish in his last four starts. He tied for 13th here in 2012, his most recent appearance in New Orleans, and certainly has the aggressive style and length off the tee to make him a contender this week.
9. Cameron Tringale: His missed cut here last year snapped a recent run of good form at TPC Louisiana, when Tringale went T-28, T-18, T-7 from 2010-2012. He was fourth last month at the Shell Houston Open and has five top-25 finishes to his credit this season.
10. Nicholas Thompson: Thompson contended for his first PGA Tour win last week before tying for 12th, but three of his last four starts have yielded results of T-26 or better. After a slow start to 2014, Thompson has made five of seven cuts since the Tour began the Florida swing and had good weeks at TPC Louisiana in both 2010 (T-7) and 2008 (T-4).