PGA Tour: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Preview

Golfer lines up iron shot

We preview the Zurich Classic of New Orleans which takes place between 26 April and 29 April at TPC of Louisiana. 

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans is a professional golfing event that dates back 80 years to 1938 and has been held annually since 1958. The event underwent a massive redesign in 2017, with a team format introduced in an attempt to rebrand an event that struggled to deal with the general post Masters malaise.

The team format will also give Jim Furyk- playing this week with David Duval- the chance to see how his players cope with team format ahead of the Ryder Cup. 80 teams of 2 will start the weekend, which will be whittled down to 35 and ties at the halfway mark.

Zurich Classic of New Orleans | 26 April - 29 April | TPC of Louisiana, New Orleans  

TPC Louisiana has only been open for 13 years. The course is designed by famous course architect Pete Dye, with the assistance of PGA Tour professionals Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson. Stretching over 250 acres of wetlands over the Mississippi Delta, the course has breathtaking vistas and measures about 7,400 yards. There are over 100 bunkers and five ponds that will come into play. An array of shorter Par 4’s will test the risk-reward conundrum. The teams will play foursomes (alternate shot) over Round 1 and Round 3, while the fourball (better-ball) format will be used in Round 2 and Round 4.

The recently rejigged event is a refreshing alternative to the sometimes monotonous stroke-play format that is the tour’s bread and butter. And that is reflected in how strong the field is. Six of the world’s top ten players are in attendance, including Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Jon Rahm. Recent Masters champion Patrick Reed is also present while Brooks Koepka returns from four months on the sidelines. One zippy bit of trend chasing sees the event turn to musical intros for the first time on the PGA Tour. The teams that make the weekend for the event will have personally chosen musical intros on the first tee. The purists must be thrilled.

Past Winners
2017: Jonas Blixt & Cameron Smith (-27)

To Win Outright:
Rose and Stenson 7/1 | Cantaly and Reed 10/1 | Cauley and Thomas 12/1 | Watson and Kuchar 12/1 | Plamer and Spieth 12/1

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Value Bets

Sean O’Hair and Jimmy Walker- To Win 22/1
These two have the advantage of having had a warm-up, having paired up for the Final Round of the Valero Texas Open. O’Hair finished T2 with a closing 66, while former PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker has shown steady signs of improvement, placing fourth in Valero. Walker had shown signs of improvement on the notoriously slick greens of Augusta, and this could be just the sort of under-the-radar paring that could thrive this week.

Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel – To Win 25/1
King Louis teamed up with Branden Grace last year, and the pair ended up in a credible tie for 24th. Grace has been in poor form this season, so Oosthuizen has turned to the metronomic Schwartzel. Both South Africans had solid showings at Augusta, and their games complement each other well in a team format. Schwartzel’s solid play from tee to green should pair well with Oosthuizen’s creativity in and around the greens. The two Major champions look appealing at 25/1.

Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith- To Win 33/1
Jonas Blixt has certainly been on the wane over the last year, but a tie for 14th at Harbor Town shows that he may be on the mend. Also, this format is so idiosyncratic that form is really relative. Additionally, Cameron Smith is in electric form and is perhaps Australia’s best chance of major success in the future- Jason Day aside. His emergence in the final round of the Masters makes 33/1 look very appealing for the defending champions.

The Team to Beat – Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer- To Win 12/1
These two Texas natives obviously know each extremely well and actually have very similar games, with perhaps Palmer the slightly more naturally aggressive player. Spieth’s putting has suddenly remerged after a worrying early season dip, with that final round at Augusta truly electrifying the crowd. Palmer is a mid-season specialist and will no doubt benefit from the presence of a rejuvenated Spieth. I can imagine they will make an excellent foursome, with Palmer’s aggression paired well with Spieth’s short game heroics.

Written by Damien Kayat for

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