TOUR Insider: Great food, great golf at Zurich Classic of New Orleans

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April 24, 2013

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM correspondent

AVONDALE, La. -- Hello. My name is Fred and I am addicted to charbroiled oysters.

I manage to successfully battle that addiction 51 weeks out of the year but I put up no pretense of recovery at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Everywhere you turn, there is the temptation for gluttony at TPC Louisiana.

Acme Oyster House has service on Nos. 13, 14 and 17. Arnaud's, Bourbon House, Galatoire's, Mr. B's Bistro and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse also have stations. All are available to pro-am participants, and the gallery can purchase tickets for a feast off the 18th fairway at which all the French Quarter restaurants feature samples of their specialties.

Then, there is Drago's and those oysters.

Just to the side of the 10th tee is the red Drago's fire truck -- a portable station equipped to serve up the succulent mollusks. The aroma drifts over the course. Close your eyes, inhale and imagine.

Garlic, a little cayenne, butter, oregano, parsley, a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper are essential. Add a little extra garlic, please. Don't be shy with the garlic.

The large oysters on the half shell are placed on an open grill and simmered in their own juices. Just when the edges start to curl, they are doused with the mixture.

Forget ambrosia. This is the food of the gods.

Romano cheese is melted on top. Add a splash of Tabasco, lemon wedge and several slices of crusty fresh bread to ensure none of the sauce escapes.

After several trips to TPC Louisiana, I am like Pavlov's dog and begin salivating when wheels touch down at Louis Armstrong Airport. And don't think I am the only one who has a problem. One PGA TOUR player told me he missed the cut one year and still did not leave town until the following Wednesday.

I fully admit I have a problem and that is the first step in recovery. The only problem is, I don't seek recovery. I want to revel in the gooey goodness this week. Forget aftershave. I proudly wear the cologne of garlic and butter.

I am pragmatic. I know what lies ahead. As a precaution, I have packed the antacid. I also went deep into the closet for the “large” sized pants, usually reserved for Thanksgiving. A man has to be comfortable while indulging.

You see, my name is Fred and I am addicted to charbroiled oysters.

Observations ...

Left hand low: I first noticed Rickie Fowler using a left-hand-low stroke on the putting green last year. During the round, he putted both conventionally and left hand low. Fowler employs the left-hand-low stroke on short putts as it keeps the wrist from breaking. It's more difficult to use on longer putts where pronation of the wrist occurs. Fowler says he loses some touch on longer putts, so that grip is conventional.

It does create an added decision to his game. Fowler goes left hand low on 5-foot putts and conventional on 50-footers. But when does he change? Is it left hand low on 8-footers and conventional at 9? He is very much a feel player and does not obsess with technique. He's ranked 22nd on TOUR in strokes gained putting this year.

Finishing act: The final three holes at TPC Louisiana offer variety and drama with the driveable 340-yard, par-4 16th; the dangerous 215-yard, par-3 17th and the 589-yard, par-5 18th. With water on the left side of the 16th, not many players take the bait and hit driver but it is an option for the desperate. The 17th also has water on the left that gobbles up balls on a Sunday afternoon and the 18th has water on the right. It's a reachable par 5 but you have to flirt with that water to reach in two.

Gators: If you are in Louisiana you are going to see alligators -- that's a given. And there was one special three-legged gator that lived in the pond between the 16th and 17th holes at TPC Louisiana. Depending on who tells the story, it was either named Stumpy or Tripod.

During a rain delay several years ago, a man and his young son arrived with a fishing pole. Attached to the end of the line was a treble hook and they continually cast toward Stumpy, trying to snag him in the back. After about a dozen attempts, they hooked the gator and attempted to reel him in sideways like a foul-hooked fish.

The battle ensued for almost half an hour until the fishing line snapped like a violin string that had been strung too tightly. I can still hear the "ping" the line made as it snapped and the gator slipped away.

Stumpy slowly floated his way toward the middle of the pond with his eyes visible above the water line. I don't imagine alligators ever have a pleasant countenance but he definitely looked irritated to me. I'm told the gator was later safely removed and relocated, which is a routine procedure on the bayou.

You occasionally see alligators at TPC Louisiana but I have yet to see Stumpy reappear.

Winner, winner: What's the secret to winning on the PGA TOUR? Give yourself lots of opportunities. If you can consistently put yourself in contention, you are going to eventually win. That seems to be Billy Horschel's plan this year. He has made 22 cuts in a row and is coming off a tie for ninth at last week's RBC Heritage, his fourth top-10 of the year. Here's a stat that caught my eye -- he leads the TOUR with 194 birdies. Horschel has not quite finished out tournaments, though; he ranks 108th in final round scoring average at 71.55. I say Billy is starting to feel comfortable in the final group on a Sunday afternoon and wins his first PGA TOUR event this week at the Zurich Classic.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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