A Brief History of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Lafayette, LA        April 26,2016

This year marks the 68th contesting of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.  The tournament began as the Crescent City Open held at City Park Golf Course in 1938.  Since 1958, it has become a regular stop on the PGA Tour.  The Zurich Classic has the distinction of being the 11th oldest PGA Tour stop.  Some of its past champions include: Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, and Tom Watson. A side note; there was another professional golf tournament that predated the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 

In 1922, the Southern Golf Association conducted a professional tournament, the Southern Open at New Orleans Country Club and Gene Sarazen was the winner.  The victory would be Sarazen's first as a professional and propelled him to a one stroke victory over Bobby Jones at the 1922 U.S. Open and a win at the 1922 PGA Championship, which ironically was held at Oakmont CC, this year's U.S. Open site. 

The Zurich Classic has had a variety of host facilities over the past 75 years with them all being LGA Member clubs.  From the tournament's infancy in the late 1930s, through a hiatus from 1948-57, and its return 1958-62 the New Orleans Open was played at City Park Golf Course, an LGA Member Club.  The PGA Tour used the East Course, West Course, or a combination of both courses during both stretches in the Crescent City.  Beginning in 1963, Lakewood Golf Club hosted the Zurich Classic (New Orleans Open) for 25 years until the tournament site in 1989 moved to English Turn Golf & Country Club.  During the 15 years English Turn hosted the New Orleans Open there were some fantastic finishes in addition to some firsts for the PGA Tour.  David Frost holed a long bunker shot on the 72nd hole to defeat Greg Norman by one stroke in 1990.  In 1999, Carlos Franco became the first South American born player to win on the PGA Tour since 1968, when Roberto De Vicenzo won the Houston Champions International (Houston Open).  Three years later, in 2002, K.J. Choi became the first Korean born player to win a PGA Tour event at the Compaq Classic of New Orleans (Zurich Classic).  Since 2007, TPC Louisiana has been hosting the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and continues to provide a stern test for the PGA Tour players.

It is not hard to imagine that this year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion could be the next big star on the PGA Tour or perhaps a future major champion.  It will be an exciting four days of competition for the tour players and pure enjoyment for spectators.  The Louisiana Golf Association hopes to see everyone at TPC Louisiana and absolutely be sure to stop by our FanFest booth to the left of the 18th fairway.