This week brings one of the truly unique events on the PGA Tour schedule – the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
The tournament, held at TPC Louisiana, is the only team event on the Tour schedule.
This is how it works…
Eighty teams of two – 160 players total – with tee off Thursday morning. Rounds 1 and 3 consist of a Four-Ball (Best-Ball) format, where all four players play their own ball and the team score will be the lowest of the two scores on each hole. For example, if the players on Team X make par and birdie, respectively, the team is credited with the birdie.
Rounds 2 and 4 will consist of Foursomes (Alternate Shot), in which players rotate tee shots on odd and even numbered holes. After the tee shot, the players alternate shots until the ball is holed.
One key thing to remember in these two formats that we see at the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup is these: at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans – unlike the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup – there are no concessions. All putts must be holed out. This is the medal play version of Four-Ball and Foursomes, not the match play version.
After 36 holes, the field will be reduced to the low 35 teams and ties.
So how are teams decided? Each of the top available players from the PGA Tour Priority Rankings who commits to the tournament chooses his partner. That partner must have PGA Tour status unless he is chosen as a tournament sponsor exception.
Now that that’s all cleared up, which teams should you be keeping a watchful eye on in NOLA? That’s the question we posed to three caddies on the ground. To protect their identity, each caddie made their respective picks anonymously. Here are the teams they like and why…
- Patrick Cantlay and Patrick Reed. “Patrick Cantlay is on fire right now! He’s got six, top-10 finishes this season, including three in his last five starts, highlighted by a T3 last week in Hilton Head and a T9 at the Masters. Patrick Reed can just climb on Cantlay’s back and enjoy the ride!”
- Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy. “For starters, they’re the defending champions. They’ve been there and they’ve done that. Billy ‘Ho’ is a stripe show. For his part, Piercy has played solidly all year and is coming off a T3 at the Heritage, which is his best finish so far this season.”
- Charley Hoffman and Nick Watney. “Watney is a past champion (2007) from when this was an individual event. He knows the course and will borrow some confidence from Hoffman who has played recently, with a runner-up finish in San Antonio, a T18 at Valspar and a T29 at the Masters.”
- Kyle Stanley and Tony Finau. “This is just a solid team that should be able to feed off one another. Tony has been knocking on the door for his second career win a lot lately. Maybe it’s this week with a partner.”
- Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay. “Cantlay is playing as good as anyone in the world right now and Patrick Reed is just solid. Sure, he’s struggled a little this season, but at the end of the day, he still only has one missed cut in 11 starts.”
- Adam Scott and Jason Day. “Just because. Both are great and seem to be rounding into form. They’ve been paired together only once before in Presidents Cup play, so maybe this is a preview of what we’ll see in the 2019 Presidents Cup later this year in their home country of Australia.”
- Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes. “Oh, Canada! Both in good form and know each other well. They’re a pair of young Tour winners with C.C. having won less than a month ago and Mac finishing second in the DR. They have all the tools to be competitive in both formats. My only concern is Conners being tired after playing a ton in the last two months.”
- Jhonattan Vegas and Abraham Ancer. “A group that features a Venezuelan, a Mexican and caddies from Argentina and Canada, these guys are going to have fun speaking some Spanish and continuing their good play. They have the power, accuracy, short game and birdies to fit the format.”
- Brian Gay and Rory Sabbatini. “These are two veterans who have been playing great. These two have made over $50 million combined in their careers with over 1,000 starts… think they know what they’re doing? Sabbo will do all the talking, and Gay the listening, but both have a unique edge. They’ve got two, solid veteran caddies in the group, too.”