This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Course: TPC Louisiana (7,425 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,199,350 and 400 FedExCup points each
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans is now one of the most unique events on the schedule. It is the only team event outside of the President's Cup and Ryder Cup. Unlike those, however, the Zurich Classic is a 72-hole partner stroke play format that features best-ball in the first and third rounds and alternate shot in the second and final rounds. While there will be no OWGR points awarded, the team that wins will receive 400 FedExCup points and nearly $1.2 million each. 80 total teams will tee it up this week with the low-33 teams and ties making the 36-hole cut.
The field is headlined this week by Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who will partner with 2019 Zurich Classic winner Ryan Palmer. The Aussie team of Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith will be back to defend their title. Smith also won this event back in 2017 with Jonas Blixt for his first PGA Tour victory. The betting favorite will be a pair of top-5 players in the Official World Golf Ranking who came out of college together. That of course is Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland, who will likely put on a ball-striking clinic. One of the best partner duos for the U.S. teams the last few years has been Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, both of whom are set to partner in this event again and get back in the winner's circle. Some other notable duos teeing it up just outside downtown New Orleans are Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Ian Poulter, Sam Burns and Billy Horschel, and Bubba Watson and Harold Varner III.
This event has been hit hard over the years with rain, which has often made the golf course play very soft and become somewhat boring with balls just stopping right where they land. The forecast this week is pretty encouraging, however. Temperatures should remain constant with highs in the mid-80's and there is not expected to be much precipitation throughout the tournament week. Winds are also expected to blow upwards of 20 miles per hour each round, which should keep the course dry and make the players be a little more creative with the shots they hit.
2021 – Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith (-20)
2020 – None
2019 – Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm (-26)
2018 – Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy (-22)
2017 – Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith (-27)
2016 – Brian Stuard (-15)
2015 – Justin Rose (-22)
2014 – Seung-yul Noh (-19)
2013 – Billy Horschel (-20)
2012 – Jason Dufner (-19)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- SG: Putting
- GIR Percentage
- Birdie Average
TPC Louisiana is another Pete Dye designed course, but it will have a much different feel than last week at Harbour Town. There is much more room off the tee and the greens are also much more spacious than the players faced a week ago. Generally the key to playing well in this format has been hitting a lot of greens in regulation and sinking the opportunities you get. A lot of birdies can be made on this course, especially in the best-ball format. In the alternate shot format we will see a lot more scrambling. You want to make sure you take advantage of best-ball to take some of the pressure off during alternate shot where you don't try to force a 7-under-par round.
There are 100 bunkers on the course, which will gobble up many golf balls this week. There are also a ton of water hazards, which played a big role in the playoff last season. The course is generally pretty exposed, so if it stays dry and we get some of those higher winds it could be a fascinating championship. It has never been a place that requires length to be successful, but a little extra firepower to attack some of the par-5s in two never hurts.
FanDuel Value Picks
These two complement each other so well in a format like this largely because they their games are about as similar as any two players on Tour. If you go through their strokes gained numbers over the last several years, neither has a weakness that sticks out. Cantlay should be fired up after catching a bad break in the playoff at the RBC Heritage last week and Schauffele will be motivated following his missed cut at the Masters.
This duo partnered to a T4 finish in the Zurich Classic a year ago. This is one of Horschel's best courses, as he owns two wins here, one in the individual format and one in the partner format. Both players hit a ton of greens in regulation and are tremendous putters. That's a recipe for making a lot of birdies around TPC Louisiana.
This duo has had success in this event before, as they posted a runner-up finish in 2019. Fleetwood also had a T4 with Chris Paisley in 2018. Garcia is one of the best alternate shot players we have ever seen, and I expect that's where that duo will separate themselves. Fleetwood is quietly playing some very good golf with five top-25 finishes since the start of March.
These are two excellent young ball-strikers that should have no issues giving themselves plenty of birdie looks this week. With the wind expected to be up, that should play to their advantage even further. Pereira has finished outside the top-30 just once in his last six starts, while Niemann has a trio of top-12 finishes in 2022, including that big win at Riviera.
Longer Shots with Value
Since the Zurich Classic became a team event in 2017, you could make a case that the duo of Kisner and Brown has had as much success as anyone. They lost in a playoff in 2017 then followed with a T15 in 2018 and a T5 in 2019 before finally missing a cut in 2021. These two are great friends and are obviously very comfortable playing with each other. Kisner has four top-8 finishes already in 2022.
Tringale has had a lot of success throughout his career at TPC Louisiana, posting five top-20s here, including a fifth-place finish in the team format in 2019. Tringale is coming off a T12 at Harbour Town and ranks 19th in GIR percentage this season. Clark should bring some juice into this partnership, as he ranks third in driving distance this season and has been a very consistent putter since he arrived on the PGA Tour.
These two Scots have very different games, but there is a tremendous amount of value here. Laird is a ball-striking machine, while MacIntyre is a magician on and around the greens. Laird has a pair of top-10s in two of his last three starts at the Zurich Classic and MacIntyre is on fire right now with six straight top-35 finishes.
Neither player is having the season he would have hoped, but they weren't exactly lighting it up coming into this event a year ago either when they posted a third place finish together. Clearly there is a bit of chemistry here and a very nice price tag. This is a hard event to make the cut in and Werenski has managed to do it in three of four years since this team format started.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
This is one of the hardest tournaments to predict because you are relying on two different players getting the best out their games. It's not a format that all players have embraced, so finding players that have had success in the four years since it moved to a team format is probably the best way to go about it this week. You have always had to take it low in any format at TPC Louisiana, so players that rank high in birdie average can't be overlooked. The team list is deeper than it appears at first glance, so don't go too crazy at the top of the salary board.