Zurich Classic's Pro-Am kicks off tournament on Wednesday



Posted on April 25, 2012 at 6:50 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 25 at 8:30 AM

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AVONDALE, La. - Another banner event in a major year for tourism began ramping up on Wednesday - and it's not Jazz Fest, which starts Friday.

This weekend the attention of golfers across America will turn to New Orleans as CBS presents the Zurich Classic.

Wednesday is the Pro-Am, where amateur local golfers get the chance to pair up with the pros who will be playing for the championship this weekend.

Among the first foursomes teeing off is one led by the man who has captured the attention of the golfing world. Bubba Watson won the coveted Masters Tournament green jacket two weeks ago.

He is also known as 2011's Zurich Tournament champion, winning after a tough final round with a birdie on the second playoff hole.

The Pensacola native kept his commitment to return to New Orleans to defend his championship. He is enjoying his moment in the spotlight, seeing it as a chance to inspire golfers everywhere.

"It resonates with everybody because I'm from a small town. I played public courses growing up, and I think everybody can see that. Everybody can see that my swing is home grown. It means everybody has a chance to do it...hard work, dedication, practice, and the drive to do it, and not worry about what other people say," Watson said.

There will be some fun celebrity sightings at the Pro-Am. Watson plays with Mayor Mitch Landrieu just after 7 a.m. Archie Manning is on Luke Donald's team and they tee off around the same time. Other golf stars include David Toms, Ernie Els, K.J. Choi, Reteif Goosen and Ryan Palmer. They have the chance to provide some distraction for a guy who suddenly has a lot of time on his hands, Sean Payton.

Actual tournament play starts Thursday, with the final holes played Sunday afternoon on CBS, so you can watch it on Channel 4.