Expert Picks for Zurich Classic of New Orleans
The coming week brings us one week closer to the second major of the season, but more importantly, it brings us a new week of golf entertainment at one of the most underrated courses on the PGA Tour. The TPC Louisiana has become the home of professional golf when the Tour swings through the bayou, a venue offering typical challenges associated with TPC links while showcasing the unique charm and tradition of this community. The visual stimulation of golf in the swamp, in today's age of HDTV and digital coverage from both the Golf Channel and CBS, can be as rewarding as the any we typically see from more popular venues and this week's field is as rich as any in recent history. Several of the international talents have extended their stay to swing on the links of the TPC, giving fantasy owners a prime opportunity to emphasize momentum over history. The usual suspects among the Americans will be on hand and battling as well, providing options and debates for those who turn their rosters towards historic performance. If you prefer the analytical side of evaluation you can look at this year's sand save numbers, look at the astounding challenges provided by sand traps on this course, and put a small lean towards those who have proven capable of overcoming those conditions. Whatever you choose as your strategy of choice, your fantasy imagination has a justified candidate or two to quench the thirst for enthusiasm for this week's tourney. You'll find that same manic tone in our rankings for the week. We've got golfers from all motivations listed below and they are all capable of meeting, and possibly exceeding, your hopes and desires. If we choose to lean in one direction it might be a mix of the three, noting the course has a limited list of ties to certain golfers but also noting the final leaderboards have been extremely volatile and vulnerable over recent seasons. The Zurich Classic may be one of the most challenging fantasy endeavors of your non-major season and it is sure to be one of the most entertaining.
Luke Donald [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #83
Donald nearly pulled out the win last week -- one of several runs he's made at the oversized check this season. He may be the best golfer in the world right now, no matter what the World Golf Ranking suggest. We want him more than any other, and you should too.
Steve Stricker [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #177
Stricker may be one of the most aggravating members of golf's elite class this season. He's not making too many appearances, and when he does, he's inconsistent at best. That said, there are few owning as stout a TPC Louisiana resume at Stricker.
Nick Watney [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #193
Watney let us down at Augusta National but we know he won't let that disappointment linger in memory, and thus neither shall we. He has shown well at this particular event on more than one occasion and few have flashed as much potential as this young American duffer.
Rickie Fowler [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #7
Fowler continues to work towards an elite level of consistency, but there is no doubting the talent needed to get there sooner rather than later is in place. He put up an impressive fight at the Zurich Classic last season and we believe he's due for a return to that level this week.
K.J. Choi [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #114
In terms of historic performance, we've seen more than enough from Choi at the TPC Louisiana to justify his place in the top ten. However, flashes of brilliance in 2011 has us ready to jump on the ship for his return to the Zurich in 2011. It's a tough field. He's a tough golfer.
Bubba Watson [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #5
Watson has continued down the road toward the top ranks of professional golf this season and he is set to take another step forward at the TPC Louisiana. He lacks depth of history at this particular track, but his recent work on the Tour all but demands your consideration.
Graeme McDowell [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #78
McDowell has left fans and supporters wanting more in his limited effort to strike gold on the PGA Tour this season, but we know the game of a champion is lurking in that bag. He's not a regular at the TPC Louisiana (so we are leery), but he's a confirmed man among, well, unconfirmed men.
In a game where momentum can be as potent as any factor you might consider, de Jonge is coming up roses. The man has been at or near the top of so many leaderboards over the last two seasons that a roster without a spot for de Jonge seems criminal.
Overton isn't touting a resume loaded with illustrious bullet points or noteworthy PGA finishes… yet. He has come a long way in a short amount of time and his skills are undeniable. We've seen enough from his bag on this TPC track to know this spot is to his liking.
Charles Howell III [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #87
CH3 continues to rise in our rankings at tourneys possessing top names, and that is in large part due to his rise in reliable performance over the last three seasons. There are spots where the seasoned Tour vet is known to shine. This is one of them.
Justin Rose [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #11
Rose seems like a wager of risk based on a well-earned reputation of volatile existence on the Tour, but this season he has been on point and challenging for wins much more often than not. We haven't seen him at his best in a bit, but this course could bring out his best.
Ryan Palmer [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #70
Palmer is, in fact, worthy of the risk fear you might normally assess in Rose. However, this work through 2010 has led to more surprise through the early 2011 season and it seems he's feeling as strong with the swing as ever. Until that ends, he's on our short list.