It’s springtime in New Orleans and you know what that means: the PGA Tour is in town.  Starting April 19 and finishing April 25, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans will be played at TPC Louisiana in Avondale.  It is a short 25 minute drive from downtown New Orleans.  The purse for this year’s tournament will be $6.2 million, with a winner’s share of $1,116,000.  Returning champion Jerry Kelly will be in the field with many other notable players including Louisiana favorite David Toms.  Joining Toms and Kelly will be Tour stars Steven Ames, Stuart Appleby, Mark Cavecchia, John Daly, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Steve Stricker, and Boo Weekly.  Tommy Fonseca, President of the Fore!Kids Foundation announced today that the following players will be granted sponsor exemptions in this year’s event: Chris DiMarco, David Duvall, Joe Durant, John Daly, Rocco Mediate, Carlos Franco, Charles Warren, and Tom Pernice.  The Fore!Kids Foundation is the charitable entity producing the event.  Annually, the foundation gives nearly $1 million to local children’s causes.

The economic impact for hosting a PGA Tour stop is estimated to be $30 million for the New Orleans area.  The Zurich Classic is one of the oldest stops on the PGA Tour.  This will be its 53rd year.  Many of the greatest golfers have visited the Champions’ Circle at the Zurich Classic including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Severiano Ballestero, and Billy Casper.  There is a new generation of players this year for the fans to view.  Some of the notable young players of interest are the long-hitting Bubba Watson, Jason Duffner, Pat Perez, Ryuji Imada, and Charlie Wi.  The course should be playing hard and fast, given there was no winter overseed on TPC’s  Pete Dye designed golf course.  The weather forecast looks to be promising for a great week of golf.  Even though it is also Jazz Fest time in New Orleans, Tommy Fonseca is estimating the crowds to be in the neighborhood of 150,000 attendees for the week.  If golf, good food, and socializing are your things, meet me at the Zurich Classic.  I will be hosting a junior clinic on Monday afternoon and holding court in the skyboxes the rest of the week.  The Golf Channel will be televising the Zurich Classic on Thursday and Friday, and CBS closes out the week with their coverage on Saturday and Sunday.  Follow me on Twitter starting Monday April 26th.