NEW ORLEANS, La. — With Monday and most of Tuesday off, many of the Classic qualifiers took advantage of the bounty of great New Orleans restaurants that provide a great diversion from the rough three days of practice.
Mark Davis and his wife Tilly have been to the Big Easy for past Classics and look forward to the trip each time.
"We've been on a tour downtown with the boys," Davis said. "We ate dinner, rode the trolley and just had a good time together."
They had dinner at K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, which is a favorite stop for the Davis family.
"We always make a trip to his place when we are down here," Davis said. "At the end of the meal, we look at each other and we can't find anything that could have been prepared any better than it was.
"You can get a better meal at a convenience store here than you can at most restaurants in other cities. It has to be good because there is such a high standard for food here."
His two sons, Hunter and Fisher, are both nine years old, so having them along brings back some happy memories for Davis.
"I can remember taking James, who's now 20, along here and doing the same kind of things," Davis said.
Like Davis, Aaron Martens was enjoying the downtown atmosphere with his wife and a few other couples. Kevin VanDam and Todd Faircloth also brought along their wives for a nice evening out together.
"I like this town — there is a lot to do," Martens said. "Last night I ate gumbo, jambalaya, crab cakes, redfish and seared tuna. I like spicy stuff, and everything is spicy here. They always have hot sauce available too if you want to spice things up."
One angler who was not able to enjoy the food in New Orleans was Bobby Lane, who got a bad case of food poisoning shortly after breakfast Monday.
"I feel the worst I've probably ever felt," Lane said. "I have horrible stomach pains like they were twisted into a knot. I haven't been able to eat. I haven't been able to spend much time with my family — they got in yesterday evening."
The only bright spot for Lane is that this all happened during the down time before the tournament starts.
"Thank God we had this time off," Lane said. "If we had the tournament start right after practice, it would be no good for me. As it is, I might not be able to practice tomorrow. It all depends on what happens this afternoon."