Variety is the spice of life, and the PGA Tour sprinkles some on the schedule this week with the Zurich Classic. We take a break from the norm of stroke play as two-man teams play four-ball and foursomes at TPC Louisiana. We also have Euro, Web.com, LPGA, and Champions Tour action—a whole rack of spices, if you will.
It takes two to tango
The 2019 Zurich Classic will be the third edition with a team format. Competitors will play two rounds of best ball and two rounds of alternate shot to determine the champions. Sergio Garcia, Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day, Adam Scott, and the brothers Koepka headline this year’s field. Zurich Classic Tee Times
Billy Ho and Scotty P
In the 2018 Zurich, the team of Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy shot a bogey-free 67 in Sunday’s foursomes round to win. Pat Perez and Jason Dufner had a chance to tie on the 72nd hole, but Dufner’s birdie putt slid by. Last year was the first time that the format of the final round was foursomes, which ensured drama on the final 18 holes.
Euros – A pair of European duos stand out this week. Henrik Stenson switches from Justin Rose to Graeme McDowell, and Sergio Garcia teams up with Tommy Fleetwood. As we’ve seen in many Ryder Cups, the Euros seem able to find comradery in team events.
Vibes – Chemistry is huge in the team formats. Here are a few in-form, under-the-radar teams that appear to really enjoy playing together: Bozzelli/Uihlein, Conners/Hughes, Poston/Jaeger, Schniederjans/Svensson, and Finau/Stanley.
Third time’s the charm? – The team of Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner nearly won this event in both of the first two editions. They lost in a playoff two years ago, and then fell to T-15 after holding the 54-hole lead last year. Kisner won a few weeks ago, but Brown has been streaky this year. We’ll see if they can recapture their team magic this week.
Erroneous on all accounts – Chase Koepka and David Duval are currently ranked Nos. 924 and 2000+, respectively, in the OWGR, and yet both are in the field this week. Chase pairs with his brother Brooks, while Duval will peg it with Jim Furyk. A team of Boo Weekley (827) and Colt Knost (2000+) is also apparently a thing. There are hundreds of talented young players desperate for starts on the PGA Tour, and these guys are getting the spots? C’mon now. (We’re giving Kenny Perry a pass because he is the man.)
Without DraftKings this week, Paulie’s one-and-done picks are right here in the newsletter. This event is a bit different from a normal Tour event. Players choose a partner and play two rounds of best ball (Thu/Sat) and two rounds of alternate shot (Fri/Sun). Team formats can be difficult to handicap but one thing is clear: being familiar with your partner and his game is key to success.
Sleeper Teams to Watch:
Harman and Kizzire are close friends and teamed up to win the QBE Shootout in December. Both are very solid putters, which usually bodes well for best ball and alternate shot.
Most people would not know that Knox and Stuard are close friends. Their games complement each other and suit this course well. Stuard won this event as an individual, and both players have had at least one top-11 finish in the two years of this team event.
The LPGA is back on the mainland for the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open. It’s one of the most exciting events on the LPGA calendar because of its host, Wilshire Country Club. WCC is a 1919 Norman MacBeth design in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. It has a great set of par 3s, a natural barranca, and plenty of strategy. Check out our video on this LA gem HERE and our full writeup here.
Campus Update with Will Knights
Conference championships are in full swing as we get ready for the college golf postseason. Keep up with live scoring for your favorite teams on golfstat.com.
Memphis, Georgia Southern, and North Florida are amongst the teams to have already clinched their conference titles, but there are many still to come. Georgia Southern not only won the Sun Belt team title, but senior Steven Fisk won the individual title for his sixth victory of the year. He shot an opening 75, but backed it up with 61-66 and eventually won in a playoff.
The PAC 12 will wrap up on Wednesday, and to this point, California is holding strong on top. They currently hold a three shot lead over UCLA while Collin Morikawa (Cal) sits atop the individual leaderboard. Morikawa has not finished worse than 7th all season, and has shot rounds of 68-70-64 to get himself in front this week.
The Web.com Tour heads to San Antonio for the Dormie Network Classic at Briggs Ranch. April starts the real grind for the Web.com Tour players, and every shot is valuable. Tee Times
The European Tour starts back up this week with the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco. The field is fairly thin, but Thomas Detry, Julian Suri, and defending champion Alex Levy are among the notables participating. Tee Times
The Latest Podcasts and Articles
Episode 132: Introducing the National Links Trust
Michael McCartin and Will Smith join Andy to discuss their new non-profit The National Links Trust. They discuss the importance of municipal golf and the organizations vision and goals.Listen to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify.
Shotgun Start: The 2-man team format, walk-up music we’d like to hear, and the women go to Wilshire
This Wednesday episode begins by running through the full schedule for the week, with commentary on the Champions Tour pilgrimage to the Ozarks, the Web Tour playing again with no TV coverage, and the utility of the European Tour handing out a trophy that can also be used to prepare dinner. Then Andy crowns his Event of the Week, which goes to a classic Los Angeles design that has, rightly, ripped its name from PGA Tour. The Zurich Classic format comes into the crosshairs as we examine the end-around of players who have little-to-no status using another player’s (who does have status) shots during a competition that could land them a two-year exemption. We also dabble with a walk-up music game, as Andy comes up with some song options for a few Shotgun Start favorites that Brendan has to guess. In news, we hit on the Hero World Challenge still going up against the Aussie Open, John Peterson coming out of retirement again, and a call to action to help a PGA Tour pro design his new logo. We wrap with some one-and-done picks after getting blown off by Paulie. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify