AVONDALE, La. – The Zurich Classic has proved to be a launching pad in recent years, as six of the past nine champions are of the first-time variety.
Billy Horschel won here a year ago, holing a 27-foot birdie putt on the final green to win by one. Now, the 27-year-old’s face is splashed all over the tickets and grandstands here at TPC Louisiana.
Naturally, then, much of the early-week talk has focused on which winless player is poised to break through. And a familiar name arose again and again.
“You know, Graham DeLaet has been playing well,” Horschel said. “It still shocks me he hasn’t won, because he had such a great year last year and was so close to winning, and the beginning of the year again he’s been so close to winning. So it wouldn’t shock me if Graham won.”
It shouldn’t shock anyone, really.
DeLaet has five top 10s this season, including runners-up at both Torrey Pines and Phoenix. He has good vibes here too, having tied for fourth in 2012. He was in the final group that Sunday, his first time ever in that position, and he held up reasonably well, shooting 71.
“I feel like it’s a place that I can play well at,” DeLaet said after his practice round. “I just want my first time. It doesn’t matter where it is.”