When the organizers of the Zurich Classic changed the format of this event two years ago, golfers and fans weren’t sure what to think. Now entering its third year, it has become one of the favorite tournaments of the year.
That was exactly the thinking when the PGA Tour policy board approved the change in November 2016. At the announcement, Andy Pazder, chief of operations said other competitions were the impetus for this event.
“We have seen the growth of popularity with the biennial team competitions like the Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup and World Cup and the excitement that they produce,” Padzer said. “We believe the fans will love to see this sort of competition as a regular part of our season.”
Fun to Watch, Hard to Handicap
While fans enjoy the tournament, it can be a headache for oddsmakers. Figuring out who is going to win a regular tour event is difficult enough. Throw in a two-team format, and picking a winner is even more arduous.
The favorite to win are Australians Jason Day and Adam Scott at 7/1. The two have been part of several President Cup teams and are comfortable playing with one another.
Day is the No. 14th ranked player, and Scott knows who is going to be the star.
“I expect Jason to carry me around all week,” Scott said. “But look, I’m excited to be here. It’s my first time to this tournament, my first time to New Orleans, so lots of fun to be had.”
Format Favors Team Play
The tournament features alternate shot and best ball. For the first and third rounds is best ball. Both players post a score with the best one the official score.
The second and fourth round alternate shot is used. The first player hits the tee shot, with the second player hitting the second shot. The format continues until the ball is in the hole.
There is a cut at this event. There are 80 teams and it will be cut down to 35 teams for the weekend.
Ryder Cup Duo Expect to Win
The tandem of Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood are the second pick at 8/1. The two are part of the successful European Ryder Cup team that downed the Americans last year.
Fleetwood said it made sense for the two to team up, and was happy the two were able to make it happen.
“I think it was just a conversation that we had, and the opportunity was there,” Fleetwood said. “And it was just perfect timing really, so it was great. Luckily, like Sergio didn’t like completely shut me off and say I don’t want you. So it’s nice. I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now, so it’s great to finally get here.”
Chemistry is Key
While Day and Scott, as well as Fleetwood and Garcia, are four of the top players in the world, chemistry is far more important, as evidenced by the two previous winners.
Last year Scott Piercy and Billy Horschel won the event by one stroke over Jason Duffner and Pat Perez. In 2016, Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith won in a playoff over Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown.
Being comfortable with your playing partner is definitely an advantage. It is something Day believes he and Scott possess.
“I always enjoy the golf course, but it’s more so the format,” Day said. “It’s actually quite a lot of fun to play in this format because we play so many, pretty much 95 percent of the time or so, we play stroke play events and then we have this event.”