The PGA Tour schedule continued this week with the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana. One reason to look forward to this tournament is the plethora of birdies the course tends to yield, not to mention a decorated list of recent winners.
Justin Rose joined a list Sunday that also includes Bubba Watson, Jason Dufner and Billy Horschel.
The second of Watson's two wins in 2011 came at the Zurich Classic, and he's won the Masters twice since then. Dufner won in 2012 and seized the PGA Championship the next year. Horschel took the 2013 Zurich Classic and is the reigning FedEx Cup champion.
Rose was already riding a hot streak following his second-place outing at this year's Masters Tournament. With his win in New Orleans, he might be in line to win his second U.S. Open. Here is a look at the daily breakdown from Rose's victory.
Day 4 Recap
Justin Rose knew he'd need a low score to come out ahead, so he went out and set records. Rose carded a six-under 66 on Sunday, besting a hard-charging Cameron Tringale to take the 2015 Zurich Classic.
The South African went at least six under in each of the final three rounds, setting an overall tournament record at 22 under. It's his seventh overall win on Tour and marks six straight seasons he's won an event. Rose spoke on that fact with Sky Sports after Sunday's round, per a Press Association report (via The Guardian):
On my way to the course this morning I was thinking, 2010, 2011, 12, 13, 14, and trying to work it out. Six years in a row is not easy to do and I’m incredibly grateful and proud of that stat.” This tournament had been plagued by bad weather since a thunderstorm struck on Friday afternoon. Play was suspended on Saturday evening with everyone still out on the course, leading to a busy Sunday.
Playing in his first event since tying for second at Augusta, Rose went his final three rounds without carding a bogey. He was also extremely clutch for the round, turning in a birdie on Nos. 17 and 18 to clinch the win.
Of course, Rose had to be at his best because Tringale certainly was at his. Tringale turned in a seven-under 65, including a scintillating 30 on the front nine. The 27-year-old also closed out with a birdie on No. 18 to put pressure on Rose but wound up one shot short.
Also shooting 65 on Sunday was Boo Weekley, who opened and closed the event with two of the best rounds of his life. Weekly will be looking at the relatively nondescript performances he put together on Friday and Saturday for the reasons he didn't come out on top.
The event overall saw every player who made the cut at least finish at even par. All but two players (Andres Gonzales and Roger Stone) were at least three under. Fifty-five players were at least 10 under, a sign of the event's typical low scoring.
Among the notables to finish out of contention were Dustin Johnson (43rd), Keegan Bradley (22nd) and Horschel (48th).
Day 3 Recap
The weather continues to be the story in New Orleans. After rain forced play to be suspended on Friday with most golfers still on the course, it didn't let up for long on Saturday. It caused one delay early in the afternoon, and by the time play resumed in the evening, there wasn't a lot of time before darkness consumed the course.
According to the PGA Tour Media's official Twitter account, Sunday's action will begin at 7:30 a.m. local time (8:30 Eastern):
When players were forced off the course, Erik Compton and Jason Day were tied for the lead at 13 under par. Compton made it through six holes in the third round, while Day only got through three.
Compton is the player who will dread being taken off the course on Saturday. He hit four birdies in the first five holes to vault into a tie for first place.
The 35-year-old American has been flirting with a PGA Tour win multiple times over the past two years. He finished second at the U.S. Open in 2014 and tied for 10th but just three shots behind Bill Haas (-22) at the Humana Challenge in January.
Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman is a believer in Compton eventually getting off the schneid:
Compton has seven career wins, though none have come on the PGA Tour. Four of those victories have come on the Nationwide Tour (one) and Canadian Tour (three) but none since 2011 at the Mexico Open.
Blayne Barber was another player who enjoyed the rain-soaked course. He was at five under through 11 holes, moving his total score to 12-under par and in a tie for second place with three others.
Per Amanda Balionis of PGATour.com, Barber's Saturday success came entirely on the front nine:
Barber is still looking to carve out his niche on tour. The 25-year-old is ranked 197th in the world, played a career-high 15 PGA Tour events in 2014, making the cut nine times and finishing in the top 10 twice.
One of those players tied with Barber at 12 under par is Jerry Kelly, who drilled a long birdie putt halfway through the second round that pushed his score to six-under (via PGA Tour):
It's definitely a crowded mix through two-plus rounds at the Zurich Classic. Compton and Day hold a slight edge, but 13 players are within three shots of that duo with between 24 and 33 holes left to play.
Assuming the weather cooperates on Sunday, stamina is going to be essential. There are going to be a lot of big movers and sharp declines with so much golf to be played in so little time.
Day 2 Recap
On a day when Cameron Tringale and Scott Stallings each fired a seven-under 65, Mother Nature was the focal point of Friday's action at the Zurich Classic.
With a lot of players still on the course, the PGA Tour suspended the second round until Saturday at 8 a.m., per the PGA Tour Media:
Hudson Swafford and Boo Weekley will begin play on Saturday tied for the lead at 11 under. Swafford completed his 18 holes on Friday, while Weekley made it through 15 giving him extra work to take care of tomorrow.
Speaking to Golf Channel (via Mark Lamport-Stokes of Reuters), Swafford said his key to success so far has been a change with his swing:
Nothing was really clicking for me so I kind of changed the takeaway with my golf swing, and actually my stroke with the putter. I've been trying to bring it a little more inside and down the line. Ever since then, Bay Hill, it has kind of kicked in and I've really seen some good golf.
One player who had to be sad seeing Friday end before he could finish play was Marc Leishman. The Australia native moved up 116 spots into a tie for 14th at eight under par through 17 holes, thanks to 10 birdies, with the PGA Tour tweeting out his final one on No. 16:
It's a nice bounce-back round for Leishman coming off Thursday's 74. He is now just three shots off the lead heading into Saturday's elongated round.
Tringale was able to build off a strong 69 in the first round to shoot 65 on Friday and climb within one shot of the lead. His round included an eagle on the par-five second hole and 31 on the front nine. The 27-year-old is looking for his first singles PGA Tour title after winning the Franklin Templeton Shootout with Jason Day last year.
There's a lot of competition for Tringale heading into Saturday. In addition to Swafford and Weekley ahead of him, there are four other players tied with him at 10 under par. Of that group, only Brendon de Jonge was able to complete his second round.
Jerry Kelly (through 17), Daniel Berger (through 15) and Jason Day (through 14) have a lot of work cut out for them on Saturday. Kelly was riding his own wave of momentum at eight under par on Friday, including four consecutive birdies from 13 through 16.
Freddie Jacobson isn't in contention to win this weekend at five under par, but he did get headlines early on Friday because he needed to three-putt the first hole. For most players that's not a noteworthy event, but Golf Channel's Justin Ray tweeted out how long it had been since Jacobson did that:
To his credit, Jacobson was a good sport about it by saying this on Twitter after his round:
The good news for Jacobson, as well as other players under par looking to make a run either at the leaderboard or making the cut, is the Zurich Classic has traditionally been an event where there are low scores to be found.
As things stand, the cut line is projected to be four-under par with 83 players at or above that line right now. In that group, after the two leaders, there are 29 players within four shots of Swafford and Weekley.
Most of the field will have extra holes to play with starting on Saturday, so no one should feel secure with their spot heading into the third day.
Day 1 Recap
The first several players on the first-round leaderboard are slight surprises, headlined by co-leaders Brendon de Jonge and Boo Weekley, who both fired exceptional rounds of eight-under 64. They're in front of Sean O'Hair and David Hearn by one stroke.
Golf Channel's Justin Ray made mention of how hot O'Hair was to start before he bogeyed the 12th, birdied the last and made par on the rest of his remaining holes:
A rain-delayed Thursday lent to the TPC Louisiana greens becoming quite receptive, making a course already partial to yielding red numbers even more vulnerable. Even with Mother Nature's interruption, the vast majority got in 18 holes before play was suspended due to darkness.
Golf Central noted how Weekley, a member of the last victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2008, has been rather successful in the Zurich Classic as of late:
Weekley had an eagle on the par-five second hole to get his round off to a fine start. He carded three more birdies on the front nine before dropping a shot at the par-three ninth to turn in 32. A run of birdies at Nos. 11 through 13 preceded a closing four at the par-five 18th.
PGATour.com's Jonathan Wall noted how an equipment change made all the difference for Weekley on Thursday:
It's quite a drastic turnaround for Weekley after he'd entered coming off of a tie for 75th at the RBC Heritage and three missed cuts prior to that.
Check out some of the highlights, courtesy of the PGA Tour's official YouTube channel, which reveals a couple of youngsters in the mix in Daniel Berger (-6) and Hudson Swafford (-5):
De Jonge is no slouch either, capable of stupendous iron play just as Weekley is. The past Presidents Cup participant tends to be streaky and can let rounds get away from him in a hurry, but he played a mistake-free opening round with eight birdies and no bogeys.
Finishes of joint fifth at the Shell Houston Open and a tie for 18th at the RBC Heritage suggested de Jonge might keep up what's quietly been a fine year for him so far. He sits 20th in the FedEx Cup standings at the moment.
A massive tie for 10th features the rookie Swafford along with two of the bigger stars in the field in Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.
The long-hitting TaylorMade duo posted matching scores of 67 to start and are right in the hunt entering Friday. Johnson weighed in on the round afterwards, where he managed to card five birdies and no dropped shots despite missing six greens in regulation:
Recent Masters runner-up and 2013 U.S. Open victor Justin Rose, another TaylorMade star, came in at three under par to give himself a chance for the final 54 holes.
This Zurich Classic should be an old-fashioned shootout as it has been in years past. Based on the resumes of the prior champions, one might expect either Day or Johnson to rise to the occasion. Both players are among the best in the game not to have won a major and are vying for their second victories of the season.
Anyone who shot in the 60s on Thursday ought to have a realistic chance. What makes the weekend cut compelling in events like these is players having to toe the line between being smart about their plans of attack while curbing the temptation to fire at every pin.
Fortunes can quickly reverse if someone is too bold trying to knock down flags. Course management caution can be thrown to the wind more in this tournament than others, but the margin for error in a deep field like this isn't as big as meets the eye with all of the low scores.
Note: Stats and tournament information courtesy of PGATour.com unless otherwise indicated.