Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Seung-Yul Steps Up for First Win

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 Seung-Yul Noh steps up to take his first PGA Tour title, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana.

Seung-Yul / Getty Images

Seung-Yul stayed calm to post a final round -1 under par 71, and take the Zurich Classic victory with a tournament total of -19 under par, and a two shot margin. The final round was played in some very hostile windy conditions, making it hard to control the ball, driving or putting.

Seung-Yul’s caddie Scott Sajtinac summed it up;

” People knew he was gonna be good, and to finally get a win under your belt will send him in the right direction. He’s just steely, these young guys that are winning right now, they’re just rock-solid under the pump. It’s hard to do, being in control of everything. He was unflappable, he just stays the same. You look at the guys who are contending week-in, week-out on the PGA Tour, they’re unflappable.”

“He’s wise beyond his years for a 22-year-old, it was hard out there. You had to mind your Ps and Qs, and he did it the whole way around essentially. The kid is gonna be good.”

Two other guys who have yet to win on the PGA Tour, finished tied second. Andrew Svoboda carded a -3 under par 69  to finish on -17 under par. and Robert Streb joined him on that score after his last round -2 under par 70.

Jeff Overton settled for fourth place on his own at -16 under par, his closing round of -2 under par 70 helping to ease him up the leaderboard as some of those around him seemed to struggle.

One such struggler was Keegan Bradley, he started the day in the final group, with Seung-Yul but had a very disappointing day, especially with the putter. The ball lipped out at least half a dozen times, it was agonizing to watch. He ended the tournament T8 at -13 under par, after starting with such high hopes of victory, signing for a last round +3 over par 75. He still said he will take the positives from this contest, especially how he rebounded from the triple;

“I took it pretty well, I played really well after that, just a couple of three-putts and a couple of really bad lip-outs, but I take a lot away from being in contention.”

Low round of the day went to Robert Garrigus, who only just made the cut on Friday, posting the best score on Sunday with a -8 under par 64. The round included a 374-yard drive with a tail wind on 18, which he birdied to finish T5 with a  -14 under par score.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Seung-Yul Soars, Ben Backs Up.

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Seung-Yul Noh soars at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans while Ben Martin backs up on the TPC Louisiana course.

No bogeys for Noh at Zurich

Seung-Yul Noh / Getty Images

Seung-Yul shot a -7 under par 65 in the third round of the Zurich Classic, sending him to the top of the leaderboard with his tournament score of -18 under par. He has now completed 54 tournament holes without incurring a bogey, and will enjoy a two shot lead at the beginning of play in the final round tomorrow. Great Golf. With stats like these, eight of his approach shots were hit to 10 feet or closer, and he  made seven birdies in posting his second round of 65 this week.

“That’s just this week, that’s why I’ve played three good bogey-free rounds. I was very disappointed in the whole season last year. I learned from that time. I’m very ready for tomorrow.”

His turnaround has come since he hired Scott Sajtinac  to coach him. Scott had some good things to say about his new employer;

“We know the kid’s good. He’s the real deal, it’s just coming together this week. To be able to have that calmness that it takes to win, it comes with age. It’s hard to win out here, let alone without a lot of experience.”

” His iron play is off the charts right now. There are a lot of cross breezes , slightly in, slightly helping, you’ve really got to control the flight of your ball. He’s doing it.”

Keegan Bradley matched that -7 under par third round score of 65, which elevated him up into second place on his own at -16 under par. Just two shots behind the leader, and with them both playing confident golf, tomorrow’s pairing will be a joy to behold.

On Friday Keegan woke up with food poisoning symptoms, it did not stop him from scoring a 66. He said he woke up OK for Saturday, and proved it by carding a third round -7 under par 65.

“ Saturday I woke up, thankfully, a hundred percent, but I felt very, very sick yesterday. I felt so great today, from the first tee to the range to the last hole. I’m most proud this week of where I’ve been mentally on the golf course and how calm I’ve felt.”

Of his coaching with Chuck Cook, Keegan thinks they have it all sorted now;

“We’re done doing much, it’s all just maintenance now. When I’m not in contention, it’s no fun, I love waking up and feeling that energy, getting to the first tee and the bigger crowds.”

Robert Streb is alone in third place at -15 under par, he carded a third round -4 under par 68.

Ben Martin had raced to the lead shooting a course-record -10 under par 62 in his first round, then followed that with his 36-hole score of 129 also a course record. He started the day badly carding a bogey 6 on the second hole, and never really recovered as the others moved away from him. He finished the day recording a +1 over par 73 and backing up into a tie for fourth place with Jeff Overton and Andrew Svoboda.

Paul Casey arrived here on Tuesday morning, he had to travel to Los Angeles to square away his green card first. By the time he arrived in New Orleans on Wednesday afternoon, he was too tired to get out and walk the course. On top of that he had a 7 a.m. tee time in Round 1. He carded a third round -8 under par 64, and explained it like this;

“I’m really just winging it completely blind, but it’s paid off. I’m trying not to learn the course, I’m trying to stay kind of, ‘Ignorance is bliss’ out there. I know his courses and I know how he thinks and I feel very, very comfortable around them. I’m not sure I’ll continue the trend of skipping practice rounds, but it’s fared well so far this week.”

“I know how to win a golf tournament, I feel very much over all the injuries and the struggles that I’ve had. So tomorrow is just a really exciting day for me.”

Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Ben Martin Marches On

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Ben Martin marches on in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana staying on top of the leaderboard at the end of day 2.

Martin remains hot on Friday, builds lead at Zurich Classic

Ben Martin / Getty Images

Ben added a second round -5 under par 67 to his first round record breaking 62, to remain at the top of the leaderboard in the Zurich Classic, with a 15 under par total for his 36 holes. That score easily beats the 36-hole scoring record at TPC Louisiana. He has increased his lead over the field to three shots, and is sure he could not have done any better, even though he has been receiving coaching from the Big Man upstairs;

“Overall, I don’t think it could have gone much better. I started thinking ahead a little bit and I thought, man, maybe I can do this again. Yesterday I really felt like I stayed in the moment on every shot, I wasn’t worried about what had happened previously or what was coming up. I wanted to just try to do that again on the second nine.”

“I have a scripture written in my yardage book from Galatians 6 and it kind of talks about basing your performance on how you’re working and not worrying about what anybody else is doing. So I’ve been reading that constantly throughout the round. I’m going to go do what I’ve got to do, and we’ll add them up at the end.”

Andrew Svoboda is still in second place, three shots off the pace with second round -4 under par 68, and a -12 under par total.

Seung-Yul Noh and Robert Streb are tied in third at -11 under par for the tournament. Seung-Yul also carded a -4 under par second round while Robert signed for a very respectable -6 under par 66.

 

David Duval has made the cut and is making good progress, his opening rounds of 68-69 , the first time since August 2011 that he has opened a tournament with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He reported that it was a gutsy performance;

“Today was a little guttier, I hit the ball a little better yesterday, but all I know is I have this day. Even after yesterday’s round everybody was talking about winning the golf tournament. I’ve got to get to the weekend first.”

“I have a good opportunity, but at the same time my game plan doesn’t change, I’ve got this weekend. That’s what I’ve got right now, for the foreseeable future.”

Another big name Ernie Els did not make the cut, missing out by just one shot. He was joined by defending champion Billy Horschel, and surprisingly Rickie Fowler.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Magic 62 to Start for Ben Martin.

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Ben Martin shot a course record, a magic 62 in the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana.

Ben Martin, 26, will attempt to become just the fifth first-round leader to win this season on TOUR. (Chris Greythan/Getty Images)

A happy Ben Martin / Getty Images

Ben has shot a 62 before, but that was on his home course, Greenwood Country Club, this one was in the big league;

” I think back, and that round and this round were two of the best rounds I’ve ever played, It was everything, the shots were going where I was looking and the putts were going in just like I was seeing them.”

The wind really picked up during the day, but Ben seemed oblivious to the conditions;

 ” I hate the cliché, one shot at a time, but when it gets windy like that, that’s really what you have to focus on. We played in the wind every day last week, so I was probably a little bit used to it. Really, everything was working well, I had a pretty good start and just kept it rolling. It was just one of those days, just like you draw it up.”

Something else that is going his way is history, six of the past nine winners of the Zurich Classic have been first-time PGA TOUR winners. Ben has no idea why that should be, but said he does play well on Pete Dye designed courses;

“I don’t know what causes that, I know that for myself, I like most Pete Dye courses. We played one last week and I was successful there. I guess whatever he does kind of fits my eye.”

Andrew Svoboda is in second place, wonderful round of -8 under par 64, and he is still two shots behind the leader.

Peter Hanson and Seung-Yul Noh are tied in third place, both recording opening rounds of -7 under par 65. Peter thinks he tries to over think what he is trying to achieve;

” We want to do this so exact and be so precise, I over-read putts and over analyze the shots, trying to figure this game out. I think sometimes you have to let the score come to you instead of you going after it.”

Eric Compton, Chad Collins and Michael Thompson are tied in fifth place at -6 under par, following their tidy rounds of 66.

Eric, a two-time heart transplant recipient, took part  in a junior golf clinic earlier in the week, with youngsters who also have heart problems. He said he enjoyed meeting with the kids and it always gives him a lift;

“It seems to really relax me and really puts things in perspective. I seem to play better during the weeks where I have hospital visits.”

” This is a course that I feel very comfortable on, you have to hit a lot of long iron shots and drive it well here, and those are some of the strengths of my game.”

Michael used to live in the area, but decided to move away to help jump start his career;

“I haven’t played here much, but I’m starting to get more comfortable playing this course. At first, I thought it was a really long, big course and I felt like I had to overpower everything, but I’m starting to play more within myself and when I do that, I have rounds like today.”

“I loved New Orleans, being in the city and always having a lot to do. But I’ve always told everybody that if I would have stayed at Tulane, I probably wouldn’t have developed into the golfer that I am today as quickly. Transferring to Alabama was great for me.”

Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Billy’s Birdie Blitz Wins It.

Billy Horschel’s six consecutive birdie blitz set up his first US PGA Tour victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, played on the TPC Louisiana golf course.

Finally the one

Billy Horschel / Graythen / Getty Images

Billy Horschel won the Zurich Classic with a final round of -8 under par 64, and tournament total of -20 under par. Billy needed to make a birdie on the 18th to win, but was a long way from the cup. D.A. Points had a five foot putt left for his birdie and that would have tied the scores. Pulling  on his powers of positive thinking, Billy told himself if he wanted to win here and now this 27 ft putt had to go in;

“I hadn’t made a long one all week and I said, I’m due. I was like, If it’s my time, this putt needs to go in.”

It did, and the celebrations began;

“I know it was pretty intense, there was a lot going on. It’s celebration time now.”

There were two weather delays during the final round, the second delay, for lightning, happened just before Billy could take his second shot on the 18th hole. That gave him the all important 52 minutes to reflect on what was at stake. As history now tells us, it did not alter Billy’s commitment one little bit;

‘ For some reason it puts me at ease a little bit. You don’t know how long your delay is going to be so you’ve just got to go with it and just wait it out. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as hard as it could have been.”

D.A. Points had to settle for second place with his -19 under par total, his last round of -7 under par 65 just not quite enough to get him back into the winners circle. Darren won the Shell Houston Open last month, beating Billy and Henrik Stenson. He was full of praise for Billy and the way he played;

” When a player goes out and shoots eight under and birdies the last hole to win, hats off to Billy. He’s played great all year. He was one shot shy of me at Houston and I’m a shot shy of him here. It’s just the way it goes.”

Kyle Stanley shot a solid -5 under par, 67 to finish in third position, with his total score of -17 under par.

The  14-year-old Chinese amateur Guan Tianlang finished in 71st spot, after making his second cut in two PGA TOUR events, the first coming at the Masters Tournament.

Lucas Glover, the overnight leader, seemed to suffer from the two weather delays, coming back from the first delay of 2 hours and 54 minutes, Lucas two putted for par and then never recovered his composure. He finished tied in fourth place at -15 under par, with Bobby Gates, five shots off the lead of Billy Horschel.

You can assume that Lucas had his mind on other important things going on, like the impending birth of his child, and the well-being of his wife.

 

 

Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Lucas Still Leads

Lucas Glover still leads the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after the third round at TPC Louisiana, firing a -2 under par round for a -14 under par total.

Blast from the past

Lucas Glover / Graythen / Getty Images

Lucas is in control of the Zurich Classic, taking a two shot lead into the final day, that is unless he gets a call from his expectant wife. Lucas has said he would immediately leave the event if his wife went into labor. Today Lucas survived the blustery conditions, and also extended his lead at the top.

“Some windier conditions than expected, but started up one, now I’m up two, so can’t be too upset. The good stuff is still there.It’s always nice to close with a birdie, I would have liked to have had one better but that was a pretty average putt.”

Trailing by two shots are; Kyle Stanley, Jimmy Walker, Billy Horschel and D.A. Points are all tied for second place. Kyle said he did not encounter the windier conditions, due to an early tee time, more than two hours ahead of the tournament leaders;

” Not much going on out there, not a lot of wind, so you could pretty much take dead aim and hit a lot of pins.”

Guan Tianlang, the young Chinese amateur player  shot a 77 to drop to +2 over par,  last among the 71 players who made the cut. He admitted it was not a very good round;

“I didn’t do pretty good, it was not a very good round.”

Boo Weekley, who just one shot behind Lucas at the start of play, finished four strokes adrift at the end of play. Boo said his game had been a little off today;

“I was a little off, I had some good looks early in the round and just kind of got down on myself with the putter.”

Barring a call from the hospital, Lucas should be able to wrap up his first tournament win in two years tomorrow, good luck Lucas, with the trophy challenge and the baby challenge.

 

Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Ricky Storms the Rain Soaked Course.

Ricky Barnes stormed around the rain-soaked TPC Louisiana course, splashing his way to an amazing -8 under par round of 64 and topping the leaderboard at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Barnes storming

Ricky Barnes / Graythen / Getty Images

Ricky spoke about his amazing stress free round, which included an Eagle, seven birdies and one bogey. Even more amazing is that Ricky did not arrive in New Orleans until late Wednesday afternoon,  after the wonderful event of the birth of his daughter on Monday night. Ricky got his round started with the eagle at the par five second hole;

” That kind of got the round going, I was 3 under and those are the kind of starts I need. Today it was nice because it was a pretty stress-free round, I only had to chip once in eighteen holes so that’s nice. If you watch a lot of guys that putt cross-hand, their shoulders are able to stay very level. It’s a good way of getting the feeling of hitting down on the ball.”

Boo Weekley and Lucas Glover are tied in second place, both with rounds of -7 under par, 65. Boo said it could have been even better if he had got some putts to drop early on in the round;

“It was good. It could have gotten real good if some of them putts would have fallen early in the round. I left at least four on the front side that were good birdie putts. I had good looks at them.”

Lucas got off to a flier, with birdies at his first four holes, playing the back nine first;

“Any time you can climb up the board in the afternoon, it feels pretty good. I hit it like I’ve been hitting it and finally putted well.”

Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old Chinese amateur opened his account here with an opening round of  even-par 72, it was  highlighted by a 5-wood approach shot that he hit to within a foot of the pin on the par-3 17th hole. He was pretty happy with the way he played, and is currently tied in 85th place, eight shots off the lead;

 ” I played pretty good golf, not the best but I made some ups and downs and a couple birdies.”

The weather once again this year played a major part in the opening round of this tournament,  heavy rains spawned at least two tornadoes in the New Orleans area on Wednesday and left the TPC Louisiana course and it’s normally firm greens, soft and defenseless. Players have been given the option  to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways. This ruling especially benefited the later players of the day after an early morning mist gave way to beautiful and ideal sunny scoring conditions.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans @ TPC Louisiana

  

Still Dufner's game

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

Zurich Classic of New Orleans, 3rd round at TPC  Louisiana, Jason Dufner had a nice -5 under par, 67 to lead the tournament by two shots, with a tournament total of -17. Tomorrow Jason will be trying to break his weekend jinx at TPC Louisiana, and having a two shot lead should make the last round a bit more comfortable for him.

Close behind is Canadian Graham DeLaet who shot a -6 under par 66 for a -15 under par total. He is one of five players who have shot in the 60s each of the first three rounds and he’s improved by one stroke each day.

South African Ernie Els, who is desperate to end a victory drought of more than two years, is tied for third along with John Rollins, both at 14 under par. John was tied for the lead three times on Saturday and ended up shooting 69 while Ernie had a 68.

Ryan Palmer made the biggest move of the day, he tied the course record with an -8 under par for 64. He is the third player to make a 64  this week, and that effort moves him up 25 spots into a tie for fifth, with Steve Stricker and Cameron Tringale. The trio are hovering just behind the leaders at 13 under par.

Luke Donald continues to rise up the board, having a third round 66 for -6 under par and a total of -12 under par for the tournament. He is joined on that score by Ken Duke, and the pair of them will need something really special tomorrow to move into contention for the trophy. Luke also needs to finish in solo 7th spot, or above to regain the World number one from Rory McIlroy.

Zurich Classic at New Orleans, TPC Louisiana

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Jason Duffer sits atop the leader board at The Zurich Classic of New Orleans after the second round at TPC Louisiana. Jason had a -7 under par round of 65 to lead by one shot at -12 under par for the tournament. Just one shot back, after a magnificent round of – 8 under par, 64, for a tournament score of -11 under par is Russell Knox, from Scotland. Ken Duke and John Rollins are also at -11 after the second round, Ken continuing his good form.

Jason was really happy with round, including the eagle at 18;

Round 2, Zurich ClassicStan Badz/PGA TOUR

 “Really nice start on the front-9, I had a couple putts, I had a couple of easy birdies. I don’t think I missed a fairway or a green. Just had some tough reads. The greens are kind of tough to read. Sometimes you get competing grains, competing slopes, so you get a putt that might break to the right but the grain is going left. That can be kind of difficult to judge. And then 18 I had just a really good number for my 5-wood to get somewhere on that green and had a putt that was down-grain and breaking to the left with the grain so that was a nice way to finish the day.

AVONDALE, LA - APRIL 27:  Ernie Els of South Africa hits his tee shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana on April 27, 2012 in Avondale, Louisiana. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Among the group at -10 under par, is Ernie Els who had a second round score of -4 under par which leaves him just two shots off the lead. Luke Donald was another player to have a -7 under par second round and at -6 for the tournament could manage to compete over the final holes come Sunday, assuming he has another good round tomorrow and stay in touch with the leaders.

Bubba Watson, the defending champion, had another 71 for his second round, leaving him just on the cut line, and he will be there to contest the final two rounds. A sigh of relief from the Watson fans, and I expect the sponsors.

Notables missing the cut were; Retief Goosen,73 and 71 at even and John Daly, 80 and 73 to finish at +9, a dismal tournament for John.

Zurich Classic @ TPC Louisiana New Orleans

              

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana has two players leading after the first round. Both Ken Duke and Cameron Tringale had -7 under par rounds of 65, to lead the field by one shot. Following close behind are , Steve Stricker and Daniel Chopra, both firing very respectable rounds of 66,  -6 under par.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 26: Ken Duke birdies the 12th hole during the first round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 26, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.http://galleries.pgatour.com

The Big Easy, Ernie Els threatened to join the leaders for most of the day,until he bogeyed the par 3 17th, but then rallied to birdie the par 5 , 18th. he also finished with a round of 66 and -6 under par for the tournament.

Luke Donald continues his struggle this season with another sad round, finishing at +1, and suffered a double bogey at the par 3        17th hole, landing his tee shot into the water. He took a penalty drop, chipped onto the green then two putted for a 5. Luke will need a good day tomorrow to stick around for the weekend.

Another player not performing was Masters Champion, Bubba Watson, who had a first round 71, a -1 under par effort.

“My body is not where it wants to be. I can’t hit shots that I want to hit. I can’t hit it and make putts. I’m struggling out there. Just exhausted. Mentally exhausted.”

Zurich Classic, Round 1http://galleries.pgatour.com

 Since he’s the defending champion at TPC Louisiana, Bubba  knew he needed to show up and compete.

“I had to be here for that and I’m here but mentally I’m not here. I’m so out of it right now. Golf is a hard thing to do right now.”