Dufner among 8 past Zurich champs in Big Easy

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm •  Published: April 24, 2013
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Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur whose world fame skyrocketed after he made the cut at the Masters, remained with family and friends at a table in the corner of the restaurant and exchanged handshakes with a couple fans who noticed him.

The eight-grader had planned to return to China after the Masters, but then received a late-hour invitation to play in New Orleans, where he'd spent a month last summer working on his game at the invitation of a family friend who lives in the area.

Guan arrived in New Orleans right after the Masters, and last weekend helped out at a youth golf clinic at Lakewood Golf Club, which hosted the area's PGA event from 1963 to 1988, and where past winners included all-time greats Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Ben Crenshaw.

Now Guan is expected to have a sizable local following.

"I want to enjoy the week like the Masters and hopefully make the cut," Guan said. "If not, it's still a great experience."

Watson, who grew up about a three-hour's drive from New Orleans in the Florida panhandle, considers the Zurich his home tournament, and his group was already drawing a number of spectators during the pro-am, though many seemed more intrigued by his playing partners, brothers Willie and Jase Robertson of the Louisiana-based TV series, "Duck Dynasty."

In 2012, the Zurich Classic was the first tournament Watson played after winning the Masters and becoming one of golf's biggest draws. He said he only played the tournament last year because he felt obliged as the then-defending champ, and because it is one of the tournaments his mother traditionally makes the trip from Pensacola to see.

"I was tired," Watson said of last year's Zurich, in which he finished tied for 18th.

This time, Watson said he is "pumped up to play this golf course."

He was also appeared rather loose while exchanging lighthearted jabs with the Robertsons. When asked if he ever considered experimenting with the abundant facial hair for which the "Duck Dynasty" men are known, Watson cracked, "No, I look way too good to cover up my face. They have to cover up their face to be on TV."

Although Watson has yet to finish in the top three this year and tied for 50th at the Masters, he has two top-10 finishes and figures his unorthodox swing isn't all that far off from where he wants it to be.

"I've been playing well. Just some breaks haven't went my way," Watson said. "All in all, I know that I have the game and the ability to do it."

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