Travelers Championship

TPC River Highlands

The Loop

In New Orleans, a tournament perseveres

April 23, 2009

The Zurich Classic certainly isn't the most prestigious event on the PGA Tour but it might be the biggest success story. When the world economy dove into the trenches at the end of last year, the people of New Orleans were the welcoming committee. They've been fighting for their economic survival since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. If you think toxic assets are bad, try toxic floodwater.

The PGA Tour's tournament in New Orleans was on life-support before the hurricane came and was nearly given up for dead afterward. Now, Zurich Financial Services has extended its sponsorship through 2014.

"This is one of the things that I'm cautious about when I listen to people criticize events like this," says Zurich CEO Jim Schiro, a 16-handicap who lives in Switzerland and plays all his below sea level golf in the Zurich Classic pro-am. "In some cases maybe they're right. But they have to look and say, what's happening there? What's the purpose of it? Here, we bring $30 million in economic development. If we suddenly said, let's not have that event, that's $30 million out of this economy. Look around at all these vendors that are working here. These are not high-skilled jobs. These are people who need these jobs at this particular time. It's the money that we give back to charities at a very, very critical time. Where are these charities going to get this money? We've cut back, I will honestly say. We've cut back on the level of entertaining we're doing but we've not cut back, in fact, we've increased the charitable focus of this tournament."

-- Jim Moriarty