The PGA Tour swaps one-on-one combat for pairs this week as the campaign heads to the Zurich Classic, a mixture of foursomes and fourballs in what is a shootout for a title which brings all the benefits a singles crown would.
Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer won the title the last time the event was played and they have had to wait a couple of years to be able to defend their crown after Covid put paid to the chances of the event going ahead last year. 79 other teams will be out to stop them.
2019 – Jon Rahm & Ryan Palmer
2018 – Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
2017 – Jonas Blixt & Cameron Smith
2016 – Brian Stuard
2015 – Justin Rose
2014 – Seung-yul Noh
2013 – Billy Horschel
2012 – Jason Dufner
2011 – Bubba Watson
2010 – Jason Bohn
We are at TPC Louisiana once again this week. After the storms of a few years ago took out a number of the trees on this course, it has become a second shot golf course, as evidenced by the list of recent winners who are pretty much a who’s who of ball striking with the exception of Bubba Watson.
The course is a par 72 which measures 7,425 yards so it isn’t overly long and with no real punishment off the tee most players can get round it safely enough. The greens here are pretty undulating and that is where the test comes. You would have to putt well in this type of event anyway but that is especially the case on these greens.
There is a little more strategy involved this week, especially in the first and third rounds when everyone plays their own golf ball and scoring needs to be low. The even rounds are not too bad with just the one ball in play. We’re looking for a good ball striking pair who can hole putts and will gel nicely.
The event might be a little quirky this week but there is still a fair few leading names among the 80 teams on show this week. The defending champions are Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer and they set a decent standard but we also have the reigning USPGA champion Collin Morikawa and his partner Matthew Wolff, highly ranked pair Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay teaming up as well as the Australian pairing of Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman.
We also have some pairs who we have seen before in the various events around the world in Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel as well as Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. A couple of new pairs who could go well are Danny Willett and Tyrrell Hatton while if length has any impact on the tournament then Tony Finau and Cameron Champ should go well too. The format might be different but the big names have come out to play once again.
The defending champions of Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm are the 15/2 favourites to win the tournament this week. They only teamed up after Palmer won a bet to get to play with Rahm but the pairing worked perfectly two years ago and there is nothing in the form of either player to suggest they won’t go very well on their title defence. There is clearly a good dynamic between these two and if a pair are to defend this title it might well be them. The event feels bigger than to back a 15/2 shot though.
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele are always on the shortlist for any tournament they tee it up in as singles so it makes sense that they are 8/1 to win this event as a pairing. These two have the chance to put themselves forward to be a pairing in the Ryder Cup later in the year here so it will be interesting to see how well they go. The price aside, there isn’t a whole lot not to like about this American pairing although the putter of Cantlay in the foursomes would put me off. They aren’t for me.
The Australian pair of Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith are next in the betting at 12/1. On the face of it there isn’t anything to dislike about these two. They both have excellent short games which I always think is essential in the foursomes and they have the chance to build a strong World Cup and Presidents Cup pairing from here on in. Once again the price is a little on the tight side for such a quirky tournament and so I’ll reluctantly pass them over.
Among the most interesting pairings in the field is the Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler one. Both these men can belt it a mighty mile and they can both shape shots into pins so if they gel and get their rock rolling in the fourballs in particular they could take a lot of stopping. On the flip side of that, if they aren’t quite in sync then they could come unstuck in the foursomes in a big way. I’ll be interested to see how they go but I’m not massively inclined to bet here.
After landing a 110/1 winner last week I’m not going too mad on this event. It is quirky in nature and quite a tough betting heat but it is one I like watching as it is different to the norm so I’ll take a couple of bets to follow it with and get back to full PGA Tour betting in the Valspar next week. My main bet this week is going to be on the WGC Match Play champion Billy Horschel and the man who ran hot for so long at the Genesis Invitational in Sam Burns. Horschel won this event alongside Scott Piercy in 2018 and he has found himself another big driver of the ball who makes a huge amount of birdies. I really like this pairing because Horschel is pretty straight off the tee and usually very good into the greens and Burns comes alive around them so they can score well both in fourballs and foursomes. Assuming these two gel nicely they look to have the combination to go flag hunting and go low this week.
My default pairing for this event is Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown and they have a similar dynamic with Kisner very solid from tee to green and outstanding around the greens and on them while Brown is probably longer and more powerful off the tee to bring out Kisner’s wedge game in foursomes and to post plenty of birdies in the fourballs. These two have finishes of 2-15-5 in the last three runnings here and they’d have been much better than 15 that year if they hadn’t closed with a 77. Kisner showed at the Matchplay that he’s bang in there for these events again. They are overpriced and form my second bet.
PLACED – Back B.Horschel & S.Burns to win Zurich Classic of New Orleans (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 23.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-7)
Back them here:
Back K.Kisner & S.Brown to win Zurich Classic of New Orleans (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 51.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-7)
Back them here: