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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Information from Sports Network was used in this article.