Zurich Classic experts' picks

April, 22, 2014

Each week of the season, our experts share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week, we're at TPC Louisiana for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Nick Watney
In eight starts, he has missed only two cuts and owns a win. He is coming off a so-so performance at the Masters (finishing T-44) and a WD with a bad back before that in Miami at the WGC. I expect after a week at home with his new baby girl that he will play inspired and finish inside the top 10.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Billy Horschel
In 2013, Horschel set the 72-hole record at TPC Louisiana with a 20-under-par 268 total. In his final-round 64, the former Florida Gator had nine birdies against one bogey.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Billy Horschel
A final-round 64 at TPC Louisiana a year ago shows just how much he mastered the course, and it led to his first PGA Tour victory.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Ryan Palmer
Palmer hasn't missed a cut since his first start to the wraparound schedule in October and has finished inside the top 10 in three of his past six starts. His T-4 in 2012 (that included a 64 in Round 3) shows he knows how to take it deep at TPC Louisiana.

Birdie Buster

Collins: Andres Romero
Every golfer goes through tough stretches, and some last longer than others. In the past two and a half years, Romero has made less than half of his cuts (27 of 55), but he is trending in the right direction. He has made his last two cuts and had two weeks off leading up to an event he's won on a course he loves.

Evans: Will MacKenzie
With rounds of 75-79 to miss the cut last week at the RBC Heritage, the 39-year-old Greenville, N.C., native had his worst start of the season. He's still been one of the most consistent players in the wraparound schedule by amassing nine top-25s in 14 events, including a tie for second in March at the Valero Texas Open.

Harig: Patrick Reed
He missed the cut at the Masters but bounced back to play the weekend at the RBC Heritage and is in fourth place in the FedEx Cup standings.

Maguire: Justin Rose
Rose is coming off a T-14 at the Masters and working his way into shape to defend his U.S. Open title in seven weeks at this year's venue, Pinehurst No. 2.

Super Sleeper

Collins: Tommy Gainey
If he'd made 11 of his last 16 cuts, he wouldn't be much of a sleeper pick, but that 11 is the cuts he's missed. Think I'm scared to go out on a limb? You bet your ascot I'm not. It's called super sleeper! Two Gloves has never missed the cut here in three career starts. A top five might be a big ask, but a top 10 is doable.

Evans: John Peterson
The 25-year-old former NCAA champion at LSU has struggled this season with just five made cuts in 14 events, but at New Orleans last year he finished in a tie for eighth, his only top 10 in the 2013 PGA Tour season.

Harig: Ernie Els
The Big Easy has not been on his game of late, but he does have consecutive top 15 finishes in New Orleans, including a playoff loss to Jason Dufner two years ago.

Maguire: Boo Weekley
The affable Weekley doesn't own a top-10 in 2014, but he has three finishes inside the top 13 at TPC Louisiana in his last four starts there, including a T-6 in 2013.


Collins: Jeff Overton
What better place to get your first tour win than in the Big Easy? I know this is an outside-the-box pick this week looking at his season thus far. Overton came close at this tournament in 2010 and hasn't missed a cut here since 2008. I expect the three C's this week help get the win -- chipping, crawfish and casino. Scrambling will be a big factor, crawfish will keep the belly full, and the casino will keep the mind occupied off the course.

Evans: Rickie Fowler
The colorfully dressed 36th-ranked player in the world is coming off a tie for fifth in the Masters and a sixth in Houston. Fowler continues to adjust to his new Butch Harmon-led golf swing, but he brings a lot of confidence into New Orleans, where he finished in a tie for 32nd in 2013.

Harig: Rickie Fowler
He has played well in three straight appearances at TPC Louisiana and is coming off a solid performance at the Masters, one that gave him confidence going forward. A week removed from the site of his first victory two years ago, it seems Fowler's game is rounding into form.

Maguire: Graham DeLaet
The Canadian sits fourth in top-10s this season, so it's not like he has to change much about what he's doing to notch that first PGA Tour win. Add in a T-4 at TPC Louisiana two years ago and it's a recipe for success this week.





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