By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
In preparation for last year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a number of modifications were made to TPC Louisiana. This included a lower risk/higher reward opportunity at the par-5 18th hole. It worked.
Its scoring average for the week was 4.697, easily the lowest of any of the seven times the course has hosted the tournament. Comparing only to 2011 when it averaged an all-time high of 5.004 and surrendered only three eagles and 97 birdies, last year's field converted 12 eagles and 189 birdies.
Another significant change was made at the par-4 13th hole. It had been drivable through 2011, but was extended 26 yards to its current maximum measurement of 403 yards to eliminate congestion. Yet, despite its transition to a traditional two-shot par 4, it averaged 3.725. That's second-lowest in its history to 2010 when it registered a clip of 3.713.
Scoring overall at 7,425-yard TPC Louisiana last year was at an all-time low of 71.00. As expected and inversely proportional, its par-breakers split of 21.57 percent was an all-time high. Prior to their playoff, Jason Dufner and Ernie Els completed regulation in a course-record 19-under 269. With a birdie on the second hole of sudden death, Dufner secured his first victory on the PGA TOUR.
Seventy-one bunkers and five water hazards pepper the Pete Dye design, so course management and distance control are keys. Wind and undulating greens that average 5,700 square feet help TPC Louisiana play defense. Last year, the field averaged 69.07 percent in greens in regulation; that tilts toward the easier half on TOUR. However, the average proximity to the hole equaled 36'7", good for 17th-longest of 37 courses included in ShotLink data, but it was the first time in five years that the track ranked outside the top 10.
As spring weather patterns grab hold along the Gulf Coast, rain and thunderstorms cannot be ruled out on any day. Moderate winds are forecast throughout. Temperatures will rise to right around 80 degrees during every round.
NOTE: For similar characteristics among all winners at TPC Louisiana, please look for "Stats Suggest" in The TOUR Report on Wednesday.
|Power Rankings: Zurich Classic of New Orleans|