Next stop TPC Louisiana and birdies are the brief on one of the easier courses on tour. The deceptively long Sul-Yeung Noh - 81.00 - prevailed here in 2014 - two years too late for Unibet followers! I'll largely be following the theme of lengthy aggressive players who have good shot making skills in their armoury as all Pete Dye designs require a bit of panache with the short irons and wedges around the greens.
Big names have turned up for the Zurich Classic - perhaps a few more than the norm here as marquee players often take a week out this time in the calendar to recover from the season's first major. Dustin Johnson - 9.00 - and Jason Day - 12.00 - are the two standout names towards the head of the betting but TPC Louisiana regular Justin Rose - 11.00 - makes it a big three against the field. Rickie Fowler - 19.00 - and Keegan Bradley - 21.00 - round up the top five in the betting and it will be hard for any of the others to break this grouping.
Generous fairways, little rough and birdies is usually the theme around TPC Louisiana and supposedly there's been a lot of rainfall this year in the lead up to the event which would lend itself to even lower scoring. Rough is supposedly up from the 2014 edition though so maybe Billy Horshel's - 34.00 - tournament record low -20 in 2013 will stay intact. TPC Louisiana plays 7,425 yards to a par of 72. Featuring decent sized undulating, tiered surfaces, deep pot bunkers surround some of the green complexes, placing premium on GIR%. Proximity to the hole will be key on what I always mention is predominantly an approach shot course. Bombers tend to feature, although not exclusively, and low scoring will be required for the win.
Three from the pack
One man with all the attributes required for TPC Louisiana in his armoury is rookie Justin Thomas - 41.00 or 9.00. Justin is just beginning to find top form again after a stellar opening to the season. Thomas led the greens in regulation stats on the Webcom tour in 2014 and he's now supposedly pound for pound the longest hitter on the PGA Tour, standing at just 5'8". The 21-year-old began 2015 with a couple of top tens and added another at the Valspar. After a T11 at the Heritage last week he's back on the radar in what could be a big week. Justin is 2nd for total birdies so far in his maiden voyage and owns the low round on tour in 2015 with a 61. He sits 7th in the all round.
Looking at the course form, there's are real standout patterns, with a smattering of random uncoordinated results for most guys. Charles Howell - 67.00 or 14.00 - though has only missed two renewals since 2002 and owns more than solid form around TPC Louisiana with three top fives including a couple of runner up finishes. Why? His length off the tee the ability to overpower par fives would be my guess. "Chucky" was 9th in driving distance, 4th in total birdies and 7th in par 5 performance in 2014 and he comes here with some good form behind him - 10th at Copperhead, 21st at Bay Hill and 5th a few weeks back in Houston.
Proximity to the hole and greens in reg are vital at TPC Louisiana and Will Wilcox - 126.00 or 23.00 - fresh off the back of a final round 66 in Mexico on Sunday for a T12 ranks 15th and 6th respectively in those departments in 2015. Simmering on the main tour, Wilcox was T6 but just 1 shot shy of a 5 man playoff in Puerto Rico, having opened with a horrendous 77. This suggests he can go low and make lots of birdies. Wilcox got a run out at TPC Louisiana in 2014 where he opened 68-68 en route to a T34. The latish bloomer ranks 4th in ball striking and 14th in the all round and I really like his game for the track here.
I'd be surprised if you found many people tipping Blake Adams - 301.0 Or 51.00 - to potentially go well this week but prior to some terrible injury woes, Blake was becoming a factor on the PGA Tour, especially in events were going low is concerned. I tweeted early Tuesday that Adams was 1st for total birdies in '11 and he was 2nd in the same stat in 2012. He shot a 62 in the 2011 season which was good for 5th lowest round. My most vivid and earliest actual memory of Adams is of him down the stretch in the Byron Nelson 2010 when he was oh so close to victory. If I recall correctly, he had water trouble on the 72nd hole which allowed Jason Day in for his maiden title. Adams now has a run of three tournaments in 4 weeks under his belt - the last of which was at Harbour Town where he notched rounds including a 65 and 66 for a T11.
There's a bit of a buzz around the Louisiana golf scene right now after LSU won the SECs last week. With that in mind, it may be worth keeping an eye on Andrew Loupe - 301.0 - and Curtis Thompson 1001 - two graduates who know the course well - in the side markets. Loupe was a multiple first round leader on the main tour in 2014 and has the game to go low here.