New Orleans Horse Race

This may be the first Sunday of the year that we have no idea who’s going to win the week’s tournament.

This week it happens to be the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and although the week started with some of the Tour’s marquee players, the leaderboard is packed at least 10 deep with excellent players who are entirely capable of winning but probably aren’t on the tips of the tongues of the average golfer.

Here’s the slate together with Saturday’s score: 

14-under: Lucas Glover (-2)

12-under: Kyle Stanley (-7), Jimmy Walker (-6), Billy Horschel (-6), D.A. Points. (-2)

11-under: Kevin Stadler (-7)

10-under: Henrik Norlander (-7), Ricky Barnes (-6), Ken Looper (-5), Boo Weekley (+1)

See what I mean?

But having said that, Lucas Glover has won three times including the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. After a great 2012, he sprained his knee body surfing before the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, could not play, and went on to have an abysmal year. 2013 has been no great shakes either, but he says that’s been more about his putting than anything.

Kyle Stanley won the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open after losing a playoff the week before at the Farmers Insurance Open in La Jolla to Bubba Watson. Watching him play in person in 2012, it is a wonder why he ever went off the boil. He too says that putting has been the culprit.

Jimmy Walker has yet to win, but he was 3rd in San Antonio and Pebble Beach in 2012, so he is knocking on the door. He has a wonderful swing that drives his All Around ranking of 15th. So he’s ready.

Billy Horschel, you will recall, is the guy with the current lead in the Consecutive Cuts race with 22 and is playing with a great deal of confidence. And guess who’s 2nd at 19 cuts? The aforementioned Jimmy Walker.

D.A. Points won the two-year lottery to keep his card with his win in Houston. Aside from that, he partnered with Bill Murray to win Pebble Beach in 2011. He’s the guy who broke out his mother’s old Ping Anser putter to win Houston and has been putting well since.

Kevin Stadler has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but he finished 2nd twice and shot 7-under on Saturday. His victory would be a pleasant surprise, but not a big one

On the other hand, Henrik Norlander’s victory would be a big surprise. This is his first year on Tour having finished T22 in last year’s Q-School. But he too shot 7-under Saturday and 64 in Hawaii and 66 in Palm Springs. He has the firepower.

Ricky Barnes earned a post Friday for his spectacular, record-tying 64 in the first round. And then he shot 76 on Friday, but came right back with another low 66. He’s never won and it’s hard to understand why.

Ken Looper is a Monday qualifier. But after a careful, first round, 73, he shot 66, 67. So who’s to say he couldn’t get it done on Sunday? He’ll have a non-threatening pairing with Norlander and Barnes, so that will help.

And finally, Boo Weekley seems to have all his health and putting woes on the mend. He’s won the Heritage at Hilton Head twice, proving that when he’s on, he can navigate the most intricate of courses.

So, there you are. Ten men with talent, experience and playing well right now. How do you choose among them? That’s why this Tour is so much fun to watch; there’s the possibility of a great new storyline breaking out every week.

And then we get to layer on the additional drama of the weather. It’s supposed to be scattered thunderstorms and they’re taking it seriously enough that they’ve moved up the first tee times to 7:00 AM to get it in. They’ll be playing in threesomes off both tees with the last group going off at 9:01.

Keep that tape-delayed start in mind before you accept any bets from your conniving friends.

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