The Zurich Classic of New Orleans takes place this week at TPC Louisiana. We caught up with PGA Professional Luke Farabaugh, General Manager at the TPC, to talk about the biggest golf tournament in the Big Easy.
Jason Bohn is the defending champion after a scintillating finish in 2010. Jeff Overton is back too after a runner up finish a year ago that really got the ball rolling for his first Ryder Cup appearance.
PGA.com: Thanks for joining us again this year, Luke. First things first -- how do you top the finish you had in 2010, where Jason Bohn grabbed the trophy thanks to three birdies over his final four holes?
Farabaugh: It will be difficult to top Jason's amazing finish, especially since he nearly holed out for eagle on the 72nd hole! As a golf fan, I've always enjoyed seeing the best players in the world handle the pressures of tournament golf. The Zurich Classic has had its share of memorable finishes and the TPC Louisiana's closing stretch will make this year's Champion earn it.
PGA.com: Jeff Overton finished second last year and the Zurich Classic proved to be the tournament that got his incredible season rolling, leading to a Ryder Cup appearance. What was it about his play at TPC Louisiana that propelled Overton the rest of the season?
Farabaugh: Jeff is a bomber off the tee and he has the opportunity to score on the TPC Louisiana's demanding par 5s, long par 4s, and drivable par 4s. The true defense to this Pete Dye design is the challenging green complexes with many subtle slopes. In addition to hitting the ball a long way, Jeff is a very solid putter and he made 23 birdies at last year's Zurich Classic. Making a lot of putts helped him to his first of six top 10s at last year's Zurich.
PGA.com: What is your most memorable moment from the history of the Zurich Classic?
Farabaugh: The Zurich Classic has a rich history of memorable moments. My personal favorite moment happened in 1991 when I had the privilege to be the standard bearer for the final pairing during the third round. The final twosome was Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson and it was an honor to watch two legends of the game play on the weekend in the final group together.
PGA.com: Typically, New Orleans turns into a birdie-fest. Is there any reason to believe that won't be the case again this year?
Farabaugh: I wouldn't necessarily classify the Zurich Classic as a birdie-fest. The TPC Louisiana was ranked the 26th most difficult course out of 52 courses last year on the PGA TOUR. A unique scoring statistic is that Nick Watney is the only PGA TOUR Player to score all four rounds in the 60s when he won here in 2007. The forecast looks to be favorable and the course conditions are firm and fast. I would expect the winning score to be between 12-16 under par.
PGA.com: What's your favorite aspect of tournament week?
Farabaugh: My favorite aspect of tournament week is watching our facility produce a PGA TOUR event. Whether it's our Agronomy staff producing desirable course conditions or our locker room staff making a PGA Tour players laugh with a joke, it's enjoyable seeing the staff and course exceed everyone's expectations. It's amazing to think that close to 400 million people will watch the Zurich Classic this week.