2016 Zurich Classic Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

This week the PGA Tour heads down I-10 East to make its annual trek to the bayou for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.  The TPC of Louisiana is the host track, a Pete Dye design that at 7,425 yards and with its highly undulating and sectioned greens, places an added emphasis on precision with approach shots.  The tourney had been host to first-time winners galore of late: Jason Dufner, Billy Horschel, Seung-Yul Noh, that is until last year when champion Justin Rose took home the trophy .  Will a first-timer or another savvy vet prevail this year?  We shall see.

Last week at the Valero Texas Open all 3 of my picks made the cut, including LOCKZILLA Billy Horschel who finished t-4th, and Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week Daniel Summerhays who finished t-13th.  Top 5 Patty Reed definitely played better than I expected him to, as he finished runner-up.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Horschel t-4th)

Chris Kirk
Chris Kirk
– If I had to make up one word to describe Chris Kirk’s swing, it’d be slinky.  His little mini head cock and his how-does-he-not-just-duck-hook-everything swing consistently befuddle me, but with his hand injury now safely behind him, it’s time to hop aboard the Kirk train.  In his last 4 stroke play tourneys, he’s notched 3 top 25s, including a t-12th at Bay Hill and a t-13th last week in San Antonio (he also made the quarterfinals at the WGC Match Play during that stretch).  Never mind that he hasn’t played here in 3 years (t-21st in 2013), that’ll just throw course history buffs off his scent.  Kirk is a surefire top 10 finisher this week with winning upside.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Freddie MDF)

Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley
– A t-37th finish at last week’s Valero Texas Open doesn’t sound like much for a former Ryder Cupper, but when you consider that it was his first tourney in which he finished on the positive side of the Strokes Gained Putting statistic since (gulp!) last September, it’s certainly notable.  Add in that he has several solid finishes here over the years, including t-26th in ’11, t-8th in ’14 (in which he opened 68-66-65 and closed with 75) and t-22nd last year, and this week will be another positive step in his road back.  Don’t write him off just yet!

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: P Reed 2nd)

Aaron Baddeley
Aaron Baddeley
– Despite a recent surge in performance, there’s absolutely no way that I’m going to trust Badds on a course where there are water hazards galore and where he’s missed the cut in his last two appearances.  Simply not a consistent enough ball-striker to score at this joint, stay away and thank me later.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK-BOLD-PLAY-OF-THE-WEEK (Last week: Summerhays t-13th)

Morgan Hoffmann
Morgan Hoffmann
– It was a rough start to 2016 for the 26-year-old, but after finally righting the ship with a t-23rd two weeks ago at the RBC Heritage, it’s time to hop aboard on a course that really fits his game.  He’s 3/3 in cuts made here in his young career, all with finishes of t-36th or better.  No question that he’s always prone to the one blowup round that costs him a fat paycheck (see rounds of 65-80 when he MC’d at the Shell Houston Open the week before the Masters), but on a course where he clearly has a high level of comfort and with some recently re-discovered confidence in his game, I expect a sneaky good finish from the Okie St grad this week.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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