TEAM GOLF: The PGA Tour Heads To TPC Louisiana For The Only Pairs Event Of The Season
Welcome to the Zurich Classic, where some of the PGA Tour's best are pairing up to take on TPC Louisiana in the only team event of the season. It's a bit of a weird one but it's refreshing. I wish the Tour would tinker with modified formats a bit more often. The European Tour seems to do it all the time. I've talked about it before, but they had one with a 36-hole cut, then a 54-hole cut, and then 6-hole match play in a 24-player bracket to determine the winner. They get weird with it and it's awesome. The PGA Tour should too (and they might based on the current landscape), but for now… this is about as weird as they get.
The format is this: 80 teams of two, stroke play. 36-hole cut of top 33 teams and ties. The 1st and 3rd rounds are best ball and the 2nd and 4th rounds are alternate shot. So coming down the stretch on Sunday, you're going to watch the drama of guys having to deal with the trouble their teammates put them in and the pressure of trying to avoid putting them in it in the first place. Fun stuff.
Last year it was the tournament favorites and powerhouse duo of Cantlay and Schauffele who took this thing down. As the leaderboard below lays out, they absolutely smashed the best ball rounds, shooting 59 on Thursday and 60 on Saturday. It's clear if there's one way to get left behind in this tournament, it's to fail to convert birdies on those days. Those two can fill it up with the best of em. Their 54-hole score of -29 smashed the tournament record of -23 and built them a 5-stroke lead going into Sunday, where they coasted to a victory despite only shooting even par in alternate shot.
Last year's leaderboard and recent winners…
Recent Winners (both team version and individual)
TPC Louisiana is a par 72 measuring by 7,425 yards. It's designed by Pete Dye… because of course it is. Everything on Tour was designed by Pete Dye. That means tons of bunkers (100 of them in fact), water lurking off the tee in a variety of spots, and of course… bulkheads. There's a good amount of target golf here once again, much like it was last week at Harbour Town. The one thing that sets this course apart from last week is that this course has some serious length to it. All of the par 3's measure over 200 yards and a handful of the par 4's push 500 yards. This place requires a balanced game to compete.
Oh and one more thing. There's hella gators out there. The 3-legged gator known as "Tripod" is the star of the show and roams the 17th and 18th hole, so keep an eye out for him.
Best Hole - 18th Hole, Par 5 585 yards
Speaking of the 18th hole, we've got a doozy on our hands here. I'm always a fan of finishing par 5's. Great opportunity for dramatic leaderboard swings and keeps the drama alive for anybody within 2 shots of the lead on the last tee. You've got water all down the right side and bunkers on both sides of the landing zone off the tee. That long fairway bunker on the right is very typical Pete Dye. It's long enough to keep those who miss the fairway from likely getting home in 2, and short enough for each of these pros to likely give it a go if they do hit the short stuff.
Golf Channel and CBS it is.
GREAT trophy. If you've ever been to Nawleans, you've seen that symbol everywhere. Hell we see it on the Saints helmet every Sunday. It's the Fleur-de-lis, French for "Flower of the Lily" (if you want to rabbithole that one, here you go). When I evaluate trophies here, there are a lot of points awarded for a trophy that captures the local flavor. This does that to a T. When you see that trophy in a trophy case, you know EXACTLY what tournament was won. The belts they added to give this a heavyweight tag team feel was just running up the score. I gotta give this an 8.4/10.
You better believe Cantlay and X are back at it again, forming the biggest wagon in this tournament for the 2nd year running. They're the co-favorites at +300 at the Barstool Sportsbook.
They were also co-favorites last year along with Morikawa/Hovland. Hovland passed on playing this week, but Collin is back and teaming up with Max Homa, whose partner from last year (Talor Gooch) left for LIV. I'd consider that an upgrade. They're the only other team currently under 10/1.
I like the Kims at +1400 in this event. The Presidents' Cup featured both of these guys embracing an alternative format like this one, and I like the course fit for both of these guys as well. Tom Kim is much more of a target golf type of guy, and Si Woo has a strong track record at Pete Dye courses. I think both will feed off the energetic nature this event brings and that will give them a good shot at winning this thing
Schaffele/Cantlay Top 5 -125 - They're too good to do anything but finish on the front page of this leaderboard. They're the only top 5 players in this field, and they just happen to be playing together. And they're both playing well and finished in the Top 5 last week at a similar course. I'm having a tough time not taking them outright.
Leader after 1st round Schauffele/Cantlay +800 - They smashed best ball last year. This is a way to get a little better payout on the clearcut favorites.
Sam Burns/Billy Horschel To Win +1600/Top 5 +350 - These two almost ran down the champs last year and placed T-4 the year before. It's a home game for Burnsy and Horschel competes hard. Great combo.
Denny McCarthy/Joel Dahmen To Win +3300/Top 10 +250 - These guys' games compliment each other well. Denny will hit fairways and make putts and Joel can hit darts.
That's what I got this week. Shorter than most. Tax season is over, so I'm getting on a boat. Smell ya later. Dunno if I'll do the Mexico Open next week, stay tuned.
Enjoy the Zurich.