Despite its latitude, TPC Louisiana wasn't immune to the winter that just wouldn't let go. Rough is down by half an inch to one-and-a-half inches as a result, but improvisation is a way of life in these parts. It was nearly nine years ago that the course was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and couldn't host the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in 2006.
Now in its ninth stint and host to 156 golfers, TPC Louisiana continues to evolve. Modifications were made to the 13th and 18th holes in advance of the 2012 edition. They bumped the overall yardage to 7,425. That hasn't changed, but the green at the par-5 second hole was expanded by 3,100 square feet to bring bunkers into play this year. Now at 5,300 square feet and also more undulating, it remains to be seen how last year's easiest hole (-0.513 strokes to par) will test.
Last year's field averaged an all-time low 70.750, making it the seventh-easiest par 72 of the season. Defending champion Billy Horschel recorded his first victory on the PGA TOUR with a course-record, 20-under 268. He missed 25 of 56 fairways (to rank T63) but only 13 greens in regulation (T2) en route to his breakthrough. Evidence of his upward trend for the weeks leading into the tournament was on display throughout. Horschel ranked fourth in proximity to the hole, third in strokes gained-putting and first in conversions outside 10 feet (15 of 45). He also led the field in par breakers (26 birdies) and finished T1 in par-4 scoring (3.75).
Seasonable conditions are on tap throughout the tournament. High temperatures eclipsing 80 degrees will be complemented by passing clouds and moderate breezes. Rain cannot be ruled out, but the threat is minimal.
Power Rankings: Zurich Classic of New Orleans
1 Rickie Fowler 2 Ryan Palmer 3 Matt Every 4 Justin Rose 5 J.B. Holmes 6 Russell Knox 7 Freddie Jacobson 8 Graham DeLaet 9 Kevin Stadler 10 Rory Sabbatini 11 Retief Goosen 12 John Senden 13 Chris Stroud 14 Nick Watney 15 Will MacKenzie