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Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Jason holds off Ernie in playoff

Understated joy

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

Zurich Classic of New Orleans was won by Jason Dufner, after a two hole play off against the resurgent Ernie Els. Both players were tied at -19 under par at the conclusion of the final round, with Luke Donald two shots behind. The title was decided at the second playoff  hole Jason getting a birdie against Ernie’s par at the 18th. This win, Jason’s first PGA tour win, should also stamp out some of the bad memories haunting Dufner since the Masters, when he shared the lead after two rounds but faded to 24th. Congratulations to Jason for his win, and good luck next week for your wedding ceremony to your lovely fiancée Amanda Boyd.  Jason said afterwards;

“There’s a been a good bit of pressure. People talking about, `Why aren’t you winning? Why can’t you close the deal?  Friends, family, media, even people in my inner circle. And not in a negative way, but when you’re leading tournaments going into weekends and you’re finishing 24th, there’s going to be some questions. It’s always really tough playing on Sundays whether you’re in lead or middle of pack, and today I was fighting, trying to win event, and I think I showed myself a good bit out there. It was tough. Ernie made a great run at me and it felt like with five or six holes (to go) we were probably going to be battling for the win. To get the monkey off of my back, it’s a great feeling.”

Amanda was ecstatic;

“It’s awesome. He’s been so close so many times. I don’t feel like it’s real.It will be a good wedding.”

Jason also added;

“Great wedding present for both of us. It helps with paying for the wedding, obviously. They’re a little more expensive than I thought or had imagined. It’ll be a big celebration not only for our marriage but also for my first victory out on the Tour.”

Ernie, The Big Easy, hasn’t won on the PGA TOUR since 2010,  he did not have a single bogey in the final round or playoff, and would have won his 19th career PGA TOUR title in, of all places, the Big Easy. Ernie reflected on his missed chance;

“It was a nice little charge I made and, you know, nice to catch the leader. I had a chance to win the tournament with a 6-footer and missed it, but I made quite a few putts on the back nine to keep myself in it. Hit the ball pretty well today, no bogeys on the final round so there’s a lot of positives.”

Luke Donald shot a 67 to finish the tournament at -17 under par, and in doing so regains the number one spot in the world. Luke said;

“That’s a nice consolation. It’s been going back and forth a little bit. Rory’s turn next week. It was a little bit of a motivation to try and play well today.”

 

Zurich Classic at New Orleans, TPC Louisiana

135978059CG101_Zurich_Class

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.”

Valero Texas Open, Ben Curtis wins at TPC San Antonio

We've got a shootout

Carroll/Getty Images

Ben Curtis cured his drought and won the Valero Texas Open, at TPC San Antonio. Ben won by two shots from Matt Every and John Huh. The winning score was -9 under par, with an even par last round of 72 for Ben, he needed to birdie the last to achieve that score,  which proved to be enough to lift the trophy.

John Huh had a last round of -3 under par for a total of -7 under par for the tournament. Matt Every could not catch Ben, he managed only a -1 under par final round as his challenge faltered. He and John shared second place with final totals of -7 under par.

Next week the Tour moves to TPC Louisiana, Avondale, Louisiana for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, where Bubba Watson returns  to defend his Zurich Classic title.

Other big names in the field include, Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, and Graeme McDowell. It will be interesting to see how Luke Donald performs in his pursuit of the number one ranking. Rory McIlroy will not be there this week so it is a good opportunity for Luke to regain the top spot.

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