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Scott Pianowski

Handicapping the Zurich Classic

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We head to New Orleans this week, which means good eats and plenty of birdies to go around (your winning score should be in the -13 to -15 range). Let's check out this week's form:

A-List: It's a bit of a ghost town in this slot, with only ten players to choose from (Steve Stricker was a late WD). … I've been chasing the Steve Marino first win for a while, and he was in the hunt here last season (T5, two shots back). He's got a full and consistent stat profile; I fully expect that his second win will come a year or less after the maiden victory. … We haven't seen Bubba Watson since the Houston event earlier in April, so sharpness cold be a factor. He made a run in New Orleans three years ago (tying for fifth), but nothing happened for him the last two visits (T70, cut). … Stephen Ames is one of the bigger names in this field but he's had trouble getting adjusted to TPC of Louisiana layout (two trunk slams, after a history of New Orleans success on other courses). … Scott Verplank was rolling along merrily until last week's surprising missed cut at the Verizon Heritage. He's cashed in two stops at this particular course, but no deep runs yet. I'm still going to use him off of back class, but I'm hoping my starter can go all four rounds. … Picks: Marino, Verplank.

B-List: Charles Howell III was just one shot off the lead here last year and Louisiana homeboy David Toms was two shots back, good reason to dial both of them up here (even with Toms battling some injury issues). … K.J. Choi faded after a hot start last week and he's playing for the fifth time in six weeks. He saw this course for the first time last year, finishing T24. … Brian Davis's classy move last week buys some cred in this space, and his play before the controversial ending gets him on my sheet. He's got some experience over the layout (T19, T33) and I like that his scoring average is better than what the component stats would suggest.

Sergio Garcia remains on Pianow suspension until further notice. It's also his debut at this event, and that's never a good thing to speculate on. … Could this be the spot for a Briny Baird surprise win? He ran T12 back in 2008 and he's quietly been in the Top 20 in two of his last three starts this year. … Daniel Chopra has good history at this event (34, 33, 15, MC, 9, 34) but his 2010 resume takes him off my list pretty quickly (nine starts, two cashes). … Picks: Howell, Toms, Davis, Baird.

C-List: Jerry Kelly isn't getting a lot of fantasy pub this week, but why not? He won here last year. He's made seven cuts in a row, with three six-figure checks. No need to overthink it, he's a smart play. … Mike Weir is still putting well, but the rest of his game is a mess right now. I need a show of good faith first. … Justin Rose has played at TPC of Louisiana twice – a missed cut last year and a T17 back in 2005. But based on what I've seen from him recently (three deep runs in his last four events on our side of the pond) I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. … Tim Petrovic won here in 2005, but he's currently sitting 180th on the money list (just three cuts made). No need to get cute, you have better options. … Ben Crane has settled into a solid if unspectacular groove since his win in January. He's made five cuts in a row, nothing worse than T36 and nothing better than T24. I suppose that makes him a safe play here, but I'd like to swing for more upside. … Picks: Kelly, Rose.

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