New Orleans covers “hot” in more ways than one this week. TPC Louisiana bubbles with the PGA Tour’s presence while Cajun food and moist, muggy air combine to make this bayou city a cauldron of spicy action. From a hot whippersnapper to a throng of major champions, the Zurich Classic snatches up our attention and runs full-throttle, leaving the lazy days of Hilton Head golf in a haze.
1. Tianlang Guan: The 14-year-old is back on a sponsor’s exemption and after making the cut at the Masters the question is whether the pressure is on … or off? Look for him to grind to make the cut, which I believe he will do.
2. Roommate bonding: Both Rickie Fowler and Cameron Tringale, who reside together in Jupiter, Fla., finished inside the top 10 at TPC Louisiana a year ago. While Tringale is still looking for his first Tour victory, it was at next week’s Wells Fargo Championship that Fowler first broke through a year ago. It’s prime time for one of these two to breakout this year.
3. Bubba Watson: Besides maybe Boo Weekley or Tommy Gainey, there aren’t many players who would be better matched in their pro-am pairing than Bubba with the cast of “Duck Dynasty.” Let’s hope they put a call in his ear to get his season going. The 2011 Zurich Classic champion has five top-25s in 2013, including two top-10s, but it’s time for him to start dazzling with his game once again.
4. Jason Dufner: The defending Zurich champion needs to catch fire as well. In his return to New Orleans, he needs more on his ‘13 resume than Dufnering.
5. Bourbon Street: Imbibe and pick your culinary poison this week. From Acme Oysters to Mother’s, Commander’s Palace to Galatoire’s, Pat O’Brien’s to Café Du Monde, visitors to the Big Easy indulge to their heart’s content with the Cajun delicacies on Bourbon Street.
6. Most honest golfer: Usually the term is reserved for amateur players finishing last in tournament scrambles, but it took on a whole new meaning when a Florida woman found $36,000 in cash at a golf course in Miami and turned it over to authorities. Before you think this sounds way too shady to be true, the owner was a 76-year-old man who lives in an assisted living facility who was carrying the cash in a bag. The Good Samaritan, Rachel Castillo, was employed serving drinks to players at the club and said she was taught to always “do what’s right.”
7. Time for Nine: It’s a new Golf Digest initiative with support from the PGA of America and the USGA to encourage golfers who don’t have time for a full 18, to play nine holes. The message: “Nine holes are better than nothing.”
8. Angel Cabrera: Bounces back (albeit on a lesser scale) with a victory on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica, in his native Argentina. He went head-to-head with Rafael Gomez in a playoff and came out on top after the first extra hole.
9. David Toms: The Louisiana native and pride of LSU won his home state event in 2001, the same year he won the PGA Championship. He returns to the spotlight as an ambassador of sorts this week and in search of his first top-10 of the year.
10. Golf Live Extra: Can’t get enough Golf Channel? With a participating cable, satellite and video subscription service you can watch the live stream of Golf Channel’s on-air product on your desktop or laptop, mobile device and tablet, 24/7.