Zurich Classic of New Orleans 2017 Preview

The Zurich Classic of Open New Orleans 2017 Preview

It's a new format for this week's PGA Tour event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Two-man teams will shoot it out for top honours at TPC Louisiana between the 27th and 30th of April.

You have got to hand it to the Tour for at least trying to shake up proceedings this week. The Zurich Classic of New Orleans will be a team event this year, with 80 two-man sides competing in a team event on the PGA Tour proper for the first time in some 36 years. This seismic shift in tradition ordinarily wreaks havoc with the art of prediction and I would probably be disposed to steer away from such a venture were it not for the sheer novelty value alone. The TPC at Louisiana will reward accurate driving and it should make for a fascinating dissection this week.
Jason Day and Rickie Fowler understandably go in as early favourites. Jason Day may welcome the more cooperative format after what has been a season beset by personal tragedy and inconsistency. Rickie Fowler has found winning form and it seems fairly understandable why they lead the pack. It is hard, however, to look past the combination of Stenson and Rose. Stenson has battled illness and inconsistency in the past month, but Rose’s performance at Augusta - along with the kinetic memories of all those Ryder Cup experiences - should bode well for this side.

The format of the tournament will be foursomes - alternate shot - over Round 1 and 3 and fourballs- better ball - over Round 2 and 4. This should make for a varied and fascinating viewing experience that has no doubt been created to offset the usual post-Augusta malaise. Expect the galleries to flock to the heavy hitting duo of JB Holmes and Bubba Watson while the likes of Berger and Pieters creep menacingly below the radar.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans | Thursday 27 April - Sunday 30 April | TPC of Louisiana

To Win Outright
Day/Fowler 13/2 | Stenson/Rose 7/1 | Palmer/Spieth 12/1 | Berger/Pieters 14/1 | Grace/Oosthuizen 16/1

Value Bets
Daniel Berger & Thomas Pieters - To Win 14/1 & To Place 3/1
This one is really based on intuition and doesn’t really take form in to too much consideration. Berger and Pieters are both quite phlegmatic figures and should bring out the best in each other. Pieters has taken to the rigours of the PGA Tour seamlessly and hits the ball an absolute mile. That, combined with Berger’s propensity to make tons of brides, should make them formidable in the foursomes rounds. Pieters also showed at Augusta that he has improved immeasurably on the putting surfaces and this could be a pair that dominates the tournament surreptitiously.

Luke Donald & Jamie Lovemark - To Win 40/1 & To Place 17/2
Course credentials go a long way in making this pick. Donald is probably getting a little tired of finishing 2nd at Harbor Town, but that should bode well here. He also finished inside the top 10 here in 2011 and 2012. That may have been at the peak of his powers, but it is worth considering when you look at his excellent Ryder Cup form in Foursomes, coupled with his current rejuvenation. Lovemark has the immense power that Donald could feed off and lost in a playoff here last year in the stroke play incarnation of this event. Lovemark has not had the greatest season but should benefit from playing alongside a partner who epitomises steadiness and has the ability to get up and down from anywhere.

Steve Stricker & Jerry Kelly - To Win 75/1 & To Place 16/1
While it’s perhaps a bit of a bold move to back the oldest pair in the event, Stricker and Kelly actually have the distinction of having played together on numerous occasions. In December they shot an opening round 56 at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, eventually finishing 2nd in an event that they won in 2009. And just last week they finished tie for 8th together on the Senior Tour, at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf. They are defiantly worth a gander in the place markets when you look at their familiarity and proficiency together.

The Team to Beat

Branden Grace & Louis Oosthuizen - To Win 16/1 & To Place 7/2 
This one is really based on the team partnership that these guys share. At the 2015 Presidents Cup, Grace and Oosthuizen went 4-0-0, with victories over highly vaunted pairings. They beat Spieth and DJ, Reed and Kuchar, Reed and Fowler, as well as the crime fighting duo of Watson and Holmes. Oosthuizen’s long, accurate driving should be an asset on this lengthy Par 72, while Grace has shown form at a similar Pete Dye designed course, winning at Harbor Town a year ago. You may think that neither player is carrying too much form, but in reality, both Grace and Oosthuizen have been just inches away from breaking through this year- most notably Oosthuizen in Phoenix.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets

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