Zurich Classic Of New Orleans 2012 Preview: Bubba Watson Highlights Competitive Field

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 1: Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson shake hands on the 18th green after finishing in a tie for first place during the final round of the Zurich Classic at the TPC Louisiana on May 1, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

2012 Masters winner Bubba Watson highlights a competitive field at the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Luke Donald, Steve Stricker and Justin Rose will also vie for a share in the $6.4 million purse.

Bubba Watson will tee off Thursday at the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, in what will be his first PGA Tour event since winning the Masters Tournament earlier this month. Joining him will be the likes of Luke Donald, Steve Stricker and Justin Rose, all of whom are ranked in Top 10 of the current Official World Golf Ranking.

All four golfers will vie within a field of 156 golfers for a winning stake of a $6.4 million purse. Watson is the hot name at the moment, and could have a leg up having won the tournament last year shooting 15-under. His big drive should come in handy at the 7,431-yard TPC Louisiana golf course in Avondale.

Watson will be paired with Stricker and Webb Simpson for the first two days of the tournament. Simpson fell to Watson in a playoff at the Zurich Classic one year ago, and will no doubt be looking to avenge the loss. Watson, though, isn't worried.

"When we come to a golf tournament, it doesn't matter what you did the week before or the year before," Watson explained. "Everybody is trying to win. ... So it's not about being the hunted or being the huntee or anything like that. It's just about playing golf.

"If I go out there and play my game, I have a chance to win. If the other guys go out there and play their game and hit good shots, they have a chance to win. So we're not looking at that, we're just looking at trying to play good golf."

Watson's group will tee off on the 10th hole at 8:30 a.m. ET on Thursday. Other notable groups include Donald, Keegan Bradley and K.J. Choi teeing off on No. 1 at 1:30 p.m., and Rose, Ben Curtis and Graeme McDowell at 8:40 p.m. off No. 10.

You can check out the full list of tee times for the Zurich Classic at PGATour.com.

For more from Louisiana, stay tuned to SB Nation's Golf hub and check out the blog Waggle Room.

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