Carlos Franco defends his first PGA Tour title at the Compaq Classic of New Orleans, fully expecting to improve upon his first Tour season. Heading into this week, Franco has four top-10 finishes in 10 starts, as well as earnings of $565,717, 25th on the money list.
When Franco arrived in Louisiana last year, he had two top-10 finishes to show for his eight previous starts. His two-stroke victory over Steve Flesch and Harrison Frazar gave the 33- year-old rookie a variety of additional things he can point to with pride:
First rookie to win on Tour since Gabriel Hjertstedt of Sweden (1997 B.C. Open).
Lowest winning score – 269 – recorded at English Turn G&CC, topping Brad Faxon’s 272 in 1997.
First South American to win on Tour since Roberto De Vicenzo in Houston in 1968.
His Compaq Classic victory had the Paraguayan well on his way to an 11th-place money-list finish (featuring another victory at the Greater Milwaukee Open) worth $1,864,584. For all his efforts, Franco was named 1999 Rookie of the Year by his peers.
English Turn course designer Jack Nicklaus, who last played in New Orleans in 1991 (when he tied for 14th in the USF&G Classic), joins son Gary in this week’s field.
The 62nd Compaq Classic of New Orleans will be played this week at English Turn G&CC. The first of the New Orleans PGA Tour events was held in 1938, when Harry Cooper defeated Harold McSpaden by four strokes at City Park GC.
CARLOS GOES DOUBLE: Not only did Carlos Franco win the 1999 Compaq Classic of New Orleans, he went on to capture the Greater Milwaukee Open. With the two victories, Franco became only the eighth rookie to win twice since 1960 and the first since Tiger Woods won two in 1996. For his efforts, Franco was voted Rookie of the Year on the PGA Tour by his peers.
CHARITY: The Classic Foundation has donated more than $3 million to charity, including a record $1 million in 1999. The main benefactor for charitable funds raised by the Compaq Classic of New Orleans is the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Dennis Paulson shot a 10-under-par 62 in the second round in 1994, the lowest 18-hole score at the PGA Tour event. Chip Beck’s 132 total in 1992 is the lowest 36-hole score. Scott McCarron had a 202 total in 1996 for the 54-hole record. Beck’s 262 in 1988 at Lakewood CC is the tournament record, while Carlos Franco’s 269 in 1999 is the lowest winning score at English Turn.
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY: v When Scott McCarron won the 1996 Compaq Clas-sic of New Orleans by five strokes, it was the largest margin of victory in the history of the PGA Tour event.
PLAYOFFS: There have been seven playoffs to decide a champion of the Compaq Classic of New Orleans. Since the PGA Tour event moved to English Turn in 1989, two playoffs have been needed. In 1991, Ian Woosnam defeated Jim Hallet on the second extra hole. In 1995, Davis Love III defeated Mike Heinen on the second extra hole.
HIGHEST WINNING SCORE: The highest winning score in tournament history is 281 by Mike Standly in 1993.
BECK GOES REAL LOW: When Chip Beck won the Compaq Classic of New Orleans in 1988, he shot a 26-under-par 262. The 26-under-par ranks as third among PGA Tour records for the most strokes under par.
A PERFECT TREVINO: The last player to win a PGA Tour event with no bogeys over 72 holes was Lee Trevino, when he won the 1974 Greater New Orleans Classic with a score of 267.
HONOUR ROLL OF CHAMPIONS: Eight of the last 10 champions of the Compaq Classic of New Orleans have been a member of either a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup team. The eight are David Frost, Ian Woosnam, Chip Beck, Ben Crenshaw, Davis Love III, Brad Faxon, Lee Westwood and Carlos Franco.