Power Rankings: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

April 22, 2013

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.

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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.

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Power Rankings: Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Rank Player   Comment
Justin ROSE Justin ROSE Fourteen consecutive top 25s worldwide. Placed T25 at the Masters. Shared 10th at last year's Zurich, ranking T2 in GIR and 10th in scrambling. Currently ninth in the all-around and second in both scrambling and par-5 scoring.
Jason DUFNER Jason DUFNER The defending champion ranks No. 1 in all-time earnings at this event. He ramped into the playoff victory with three straight, progressively better top 10s at TPC Louisiana. There's no better site for his first top 10 of the 2013 season.
Billy HORSCHEL Billy HORSCHEL Extended his TOUR-leading consecutive cuts made streak to 22 with a T9 at the RBC Heritage. Also ranks first in total birdies. He's T16 in total driving, 46th in greens hit, 26th in strokes gained-putting and 12th in the all-around.
Rickie FOWLER Rickie FOWLER Enjoying a solid season with three top 10s among seven cuts made in eight starts. Currently 22nd in strokes gained-putting, 31st in adjusted scoring and T15 in the all-around. Tied for 10th in last year's edition.
Freddie JACOBSON Freddie JACOBSON Ending a four-year hiatus at TPC Louisiana. Seven consecutive top 25s upon arrival, the most recent a T25 at the Masters. Sits eighth on TOUR in strokes gained-putting, 15th in scrambling and seventh in adjusted scoring.
Charley HOFFMAN Charley HOFFMAN After holding the 54-hole lead at the RBC Heritage, carded a Sunday 77 to settle for a share of sixth place. Second consecutive top 10, however, and his third straight top 20. Survived each of the last four cuts at TPC Louisiana.
Jimmy WALKER Jimmy WALKER Second on TOUR with 19 consecutive cuts made; 10 this season. Co-leads the circuit in par-4 scoring average (3.94). Also 23rd in greens hit, 34th in strokes gained-putting and 11th in adjusted scoring. Posted a T18 here last year.
Bubba WATSON Bubba WATSON Chased his 2011 title here with a T18. Settled for a T50 in his defense of the Masters two weeks ago, but has two top 10s and another three top 25s in seven starts this season. Leads the TOUR in birdies or better on par 4s (23.74%).
Keegan BRADLEY Keegan BRADLEY Took a break after finishing T54 at the Masters. Co-leads the PGA TOUR with five top 10s. Ranks 13th in adjusted scoring and 20th in the all-around. Shared 26th place in his debut at TPC Louisiana in 2011.
Jeff OVERTON Jeff OVERTON Heating up just in time for a track where he was the runner-up in 2010 and has logged two more top 20s (2009, 2012). Shared seventh place at the Valero Texas Open in his last start. Seventeenth on TOUR in strokes gained-putting.
John ROLLINS John ROLLINS Thoroughly consistent thus far with six top 25s among eight cuts made in 10 starts. Ranks 21st in total driving, 13th in greens hit and 38th in adjusted scoring. Four top 25s among five cuts made in as many starts at TPC Louisiana.
Brendon DE JONGE Brendon DE JONGE Closed out the RBC Heritage with a 75, but still tied for ninth in challenging winds. Ranked T2 in greens hit for the week. Three straight top 25s running, two of which top 10s. Career-best T18 at TPC Louisiana last year.
Charles HOWELL III Charles HOWELL III He's managed to carry his torrid early-season form into the spring. Four top 10s and another pair of top 25s in 11 starts overall. Ranks ninth in adjusted scoring. He's 5-for-5 at TPC Louisiana with a T2 in 2009 and T13 in 2011.
Ernie ELS Ernie ELS Lost in last year's playoff in what was his debut at TPC Louisiana. Ranked fourth for the week in strokes gained-putting, second in scrambling and T1 in both par-3 and par-5 scoring average. More recently, tied for 13th at the Masters.
Thorbjorn OLESEN Thorbjorn OLESEN Tied for sixth at the Masters two weeks after suffering whiplash in a car crash near Houston. Accepted Special Temporary Membership, allowing unlimited starts on TOUR this season. Four top 10s in eight stroke-play starts worldwide.