This week on the PGA Tour, TPC Louisiana—another Pete Dye course—hosts the Zurich Classic. This is the fifth time that the Zurich has been played as a two-man team event. Teams will play best ball in rounds one and three and alternate shot in rounds two and four. There are plenty of intriguing pairings, from Collin Morikawa/Viktor Hovland to Bill Haas/Jay Haas (not a typo) to Ryan Palmer cherry-picking another major champion in Scottie Scheffler. (Palmer’s partner last year and in 2019 was Jon Rahm. In the two years before that, Palmer paired up with Jordan Spieth. Come on, man.)
So how to approach your fantasy picks this week? Well, the Zurich Classic’s format lends itself to teams that can make a lot of birdies in best ball but not blow up during alternate shot. This might sound obvious, but what it means is that you should focus on players who are in good form and are solid ball-strikers, as sloppiness is exposed heavily in alternate shot.
With that in mind, here are three teams to target:
Joaquín Niemann/Mito Pereira $9,200
The Chileans are the eighth-ranked duo in my model because they are above average in every metric. Specifically, they are the third best ball-striking team—fourth off the tee and sixth on approach. The only teams that rank better are Schauffele/Cantlay and Morikawa/Hovland, both much more expensive. Niemann and Pereira’s ball-striking offers elite consistency and upside. Also, they could very well end up as a team at the Presidents Cup later this year.
Joseph Bramlett/Maverick McNealy $7,700
This is the ultimate ball-striking value team. Bramlett and McNealy rank 12th overall in my data model, coming in sixth off the tee and eighth on approach. They are also fourth in driving distance and top 20 in par-5 scoring and explosive rate (a measurement of upside in this team event). Their only weakness is around the greens, but in the Zurich Classic’s format, we can live with that shortcoming when we’re getting two elite ball-strikers for $7,700.
Tyler Duncan/Adam Schenk $7,100
These former Purdue teammates have had great success at the Zurich Classic, collecting two top-11 finishes. Given the cheap price, we have to consider them once again. Duncan has been consistent lately, finishing 35th or better in four of his past five events. Schenk has been a reliable player over his career, but he has struggled this year. The upside of this team is still there, however, and at this price point, rostering Duncan/Schenk allows us to spend big elsewhere.