Ernie Els hopes to bounce back in The Big Easy
South African has ‘tidy scoring average of around 68’ at Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Billy Horschel reacts after making a putt for birdie on the 18th hole during the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana last year. Photograph: Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Ernie Els is looking to kick-start his season at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after getting blown off track last week. The South African felt he suffered from some unkind weather at the RBC Heritage which contributed to him finishing tied for 64th at the weekend.
Els has had only one top-10 finish so far this season and has missed the cut three times in his last five events. So he hopes a trip to TPC Louisiana in Avondale will provide a change in fortune.
“At the forefront of my mind right now is making sure I put all my efforts into trying to produce a better performance at this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a city known as the ‘Big Easy’,” he said of a city which shares his nickname.
“In the recent past that’s been something of a good omen for me. In fact, in my previous two appearances here I’ve been 19-under par in 2012, when I lost in a play-off to Jason Dufner, and 12-under par in 2013.
“That’s a tidy scoring average of around 68, which reflects my fondness for this golf course. Pete Dye has always been one of my favourite designers and courses like TPC Louisiana just seem to fit my eye.”
With the Players Championship in a fortnight the field is not at its strongest and Els, along with US Open champion Justin Rose and USPGA winner Jason Dufner are among the bigger names.
Masters champion Bubba Watson is not competing but his caddie Ted Scott very nearly was. Scott entered pre-qualifying on Monday and shot a very creditable 71 but it was not enough to gain entry.
As well as chasing victory there are several players who will be looking to secure their place at Sawgrass the week after next.
Anyone in the field who is not already qualified for The Players Championship and is inside the world’s top 50 or the top 10 in the FedExCup standings after this week will be assured a place in the field.
That includes the likes of France’s Victor Dubuisson, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Dane Thomas Bjorn, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher.