Zurich Classic of New Orleans preview

The PGA Tour is in Louisiana this week for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Bubba Watson defends the title and he makes his first appearance since winning the US Masters three weeks ago.

Bubba Watson defends in New Orleans (Getty Images)

Lowdown: The PGA Tour is in Louisiana this week for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Bubba Watson defends the title and he makes his first appearance since winning the US Masters three weeks ago. One of the oldest events on the PGA Tour, the New Orleans Open was first contested in 1939. Over the years the tournament has produced a diverse selection of victors - nine different nations have been represented in the winner's circle over the last 25 years. Given the cultural melting pot that is the city of New Orleans, such variation seems appropriate. In last year's tournament, Bubba Watson came through a playoff against Webb Simpson. The left-hander took the title at the second extra hole. TPC Louisiana was altered dramatically by original designer Pete Dye after the 2005 tournament. Many of his changes involved adding hazards to demand a more strategic approach. It's a course where precision is essential. The greens are relatively large but they are undulating and it's vital to leave yourself on the right side of the flag. This week offers one of the largest prize funds of any regular season PGA Tour event. With $1,152,000 going to the winner, it's a great chance to climb the money list. There's a strong British contingent in this tournament, Luke Donald will tee it up as will Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Brian Davis and Russell Knox of Scotland.

Venue: TPC Louisiana, Avondale, Louisiana Date: Apr 26-29 Course stats: par 72, 7,341 yards Purse: $6,400,000 Winner: $1,152,000 Defending Champion: Bubba Watson (-15)

TV Coverage: Thursday 26 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm Friday 27 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm Saturday 28 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm Sunday 29 - Live on Sky Sports 3 from 8pm

Player Watch: Keegan Bradley - Has only finished outside the top-25 once this year (at the Masters.) He leads the Tour on the "all-round" ranking and this course should suit his consistent game.

Bubba Watson - It's hard to ignore the Masters Champion and last year's winner at TPC Louisiana. He averaged 331 yards from the tee in last year's tournament. Although it's not a layout where length is a pre-requisite, being able to hit it that far can only be an advantage.

Luke Donald - The Englishman was eighth in this event last year and ranked third in greens found in regulation through the event. He's looking to re-find the form he showed throughout 2011 and a victory in this event could provide the springboard towards that goal.

Key Hole: 17th. A par-3 of 215 yards, this ranked as the toughest hole on the course in last year's tournament. With a newly reshaped green, a pot bunker guarding the right side and difficult run-off areas, par is an excellent score here.

Skills required: Course management. Despite Bubba Watson leading driving distance last year, bombing it from the tee is not crucial to success around TPC Louisiana. Finding the right positions to attack the undulating putting surfaces is the key. It's a layout where it's tough to get approach shots close, so good touch around the greens is essential.

Where next? European Tour - Ballantine's Championship preview

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?