|Zurich Classic of New Orleans - April 24, 2012
Valero Texas Open champion Ben Curtis (269.1 yards) was the seventh winner in 2012 to finish below 50th in Driving Distance on the week, finishing 74th among the 76 players that made the 54-hole cut.
Tournament Winner Driving Distance Rank
Valero Texas Open Ben Curtis 269.1 yards 74
Transitions Championship Luke Donald 264.1 yards 75
Northern Trust Open Bill Haas 279.8 yards 66
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Phil Mickelson 272.8 yards 58
Waste Management Phoenix Open Kyle Stanley 287.6 yards 70
Humana Challenge Mark Wilson 279.3 yards 69
Sony Open in Hawaii Johnson Wagner 276.4 yards 68
What a difference a week makes -- at the commitment deadline last Friday, Ben Curtis was the 16th alternate for this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, having finished 149th on the 2011 PGA TOUR official money list. With his fourth career victory at the Valero Texas Open, Curtis secured himself a two-year exemption including 2012 starts at the THE PLAYERS and the PGA Championship, and 2013 starts at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Masters Tournament.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Zurich’s first office opening in North America. Part of the company’s year-long celebration is the Zurich Classic of New Orleans’s 100-Year Challenge on Tuesday, April 24. The participants -- Keegan Bradley, Ben Crane, Luke Donald, Rickie Fowler, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose and Camilo Villegas -- will dress in clothing indicative of the 1912 era and play a 3-hole exhibition with hickory shaft clubs at TPC Louisiana.
This week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans (Ballentine’s Championship on the European Tour) offer players not otherwise qualified the final opportunities to earn an invitation to THE PLAYERS by moving into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking or the top 10 in the FedExCup standings as of Monday, April 30. After April 30, the only way into THE PLAYERS is to win the Wells Fargo Championship and, if needed to complete the field of 144, the highest-ranked players on the FedExCup points list, in order of their position, will earn a spot in the field. Entering the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the highest-ranked players in the FedExCup standings not otherwise qualified are Jacksonville-area residents Matt Every (No. 24) and Bud Cauley (No. 33).
Shreveport resident and former LSU All-America David Toms will be making his 19th career start at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. He won in 2001 and has three top-10 finishes in New Orleans.
Peter Hanson, who missed the cut last year at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, will return this year as a sponsor exemption in his first start on TOUR since a T3 finish at the Masters. Hanson was the third-round leader at the Masters before a final round 73 dropped him to T3. Hanson accepted special temporary membership onto the PGA TOUR on March 27 and is eligible to receive unlimited sponsor exemptions for the remainder of the season.
En route to his victory at the 2011 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Bubba Watson tied for first in Greens in Regulation (80.56 percent) and was first in Driving Distance (331.4 yards).
Bubba Watson joins Phil Mickelson (2004, 2006) and Vijay Singh (2000) as Masters champions since 2000 that will play the Zurich Classic in New Orleans following their victories in Augusta.
Michael Allen claimed his second consecutive title (Encompass Insurance Pro-Am of Tampa Bay, Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf), making him the first Champions Tour player to post back-to-back wins sinceJohn Cook won the 2010 Charles Schwab Cup and the 2011 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.
The team of Michael Allen/David Frost have now played 108 consecutive holes without a bogey at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf dating back to last year when they finished T3. They have posted 53 birdies and 1 eagle during that span.
David Frost and Michael Allen each earned 230 Charles Schwab Cup points for their win at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf. Allen’s 230 points in the Charles Schwab Cup race increased his margin to 350 points over Bernhard Langer in the season-long race. Allen now has 850 points to Langer’s 500. Corey Pavin is now third with 423 points and is followed by Kenny Perry (381) and Fred Couples (346).
With his T13 finish at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf (with teammate Kenny Perry) and check for $27,150, Russ Cochran went over the $10 million mark in all-time earnings. He now has won $10,024,654 in his career.
Insperity Championship patrons will see Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Lee Trevino compete in a special competition Saturday afternoon of tournament week at The Woodlands Tournament Course. The tournament has created a Greats of Golf competition that will include the ‘Big Four‘ along with Don January, Miller Barber, Gene Littler, David Graham and Dave Stockton. They will follow the last tee time of the official competition and play an 18-hole scramble format. This group includes five World Golf Hall of Fame members, has a combined total of 256 PGA TOUR wins, 46 major championship titles and 141 Champions Tour wins.
This week's host Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta, GA has been the longest course on Tour since the South Georgia Classic came on the schedule in 2007. With an official scorecard yardage of 7,781 yards, it remains the longest, with 7,708-yard El Bosque Country Club in Leon, Mexico next.
New Jersey native Matt Davidson began hitting golf balls in early April for the first time since suffering a torn ACL in his left knee while playing basketball in December. The 2004 Furman University grad hopes to return to play in June. Davidson finished 34th on last year's money list.
American-born players (Skip Kendall, Edward Loar, Paul Haley II, Casey Wittenberg, Andres Gonzales) won the first five tournaments of 2012, with Mexico City-born and San Diego-raised Alex Aragon capturing the sixth in California on April 15th. Last year, three of the first four tournaments were won by international members and 10 of 26 overall.
Former Bulldogs Matthew Stafford and Hines Ward headline next Monday's (April 30th) Pro/Celebrity Pro-Am that will kick off the Stadion Classic at UGA Golf Course in Athens, Ga. (May 3-6).Classic in Valdosta (April 26-29) and Stadion Classic at UGA in Athens (May 3-6).