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Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Tips, predictions and odds

The PGA TOUR's first and only team event of the season is upon us, and Mike Glasscott has five pairings to watch out for this week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

To Win – Nick Taylor & Adam Hadwin (25/1)
Top 10 – Taylor Moore & Matt NeSmith (7/2) and Davis Thompson & Andrew Novak (15/4)
Top 20 – Charley Hoffman & Nick Watney (17/4) and Pierceson Coody & Parker Coody (2/1)


TPC Louisiana course guide

The fourth Pete Dye design of the season and second course in back-to-back weeks, TPC Louisiana opened in 2004.

Hosting the Zurich Classic of New Orleans every year save two since 2005, no other course has hosted the team event since the 2017 inception. Every edition of the team game has played at Par-72 and 7,425 yards.

Carved through the swamps of the bayou, 106 bunkers, eight holes with water penalty areas, and two inches of TifSport Bermuda rough complement the risk-reward concept.

Fairways are not generous and the putting surfaces rank inside the top five of smallest on TOUR, averaging just 5,225 square feet.

Poa Trivialis putting surfaces, common this time of year before the TifEagle takes over, will run at 12 feet.

Registering 30-under and 29-under to win in the last two editions, four of the six winning totals have been 26-under or better. The best way to factor in a shootout is pummel fairways and greens and convert those attempts into birdies. Making birdies and avoiding bogeys is the formula for success.

The stock Par-72 comes with four Par-5 holes that measure less than 590 yards. Cutting corners and doglegs, plus handling forced carries will provide the temptations and will reward the bold who execute.

The pressure of performing for the teammate will enter all decisions made.

Set in 2023 by Nick Hardy and Davis Riley, the tournament scoring record is 30-under-par.

The Four-balls (Best Ball) record is 59, produced by Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele in Round 1 of 2022.

The Foursomes (Alternate Shot) record is 63, last accomplished by Nick Taylor & Adam Hadwin in Round 4 in 2023. Cantlay & Schauffele also matched this mark in 2023 in Round 2.

Zurich Classic Preview

After a major championship and a Signature Event, the partner’s game makes it three weeks in a row with a completely different vibe.

The field of 160 players is divided into 80 two-man teams and includes 15 of the top 50 from the Official World Golf Rankings and 27 players who teed it up last week at Harbour Town, another Pete Dye track.

Defending champions Hardy & Riley join Cantlay & Schauffele as the only previous team champions in the field.

Billy Horschel, paired with Tyson Alexander this week, is the only player in the field to win the team title (2018 with Scott Piercy) and the individual stroke play title (2013), his first victory on TOUR.

Nick Watney (2007), playing with Charley Hoffman, and Jason Dufner (2012), playing with Kevin Chappell, are the only other players in the field to win the individual Zurich title.

Scott Piercy (2018), playing with Harry Hall, and Ryan Palmer (2019), playing with Zach Johnson have won the team titles with different partners. Winning by three shots in 2019, Palmer has the record for margin of victory.

After one round of Four-balls (Best Ball) and one round of Foursomes (Alternate Shot), the field will be cut to the top 33 teams and ties.

The final two rounds will be Four-balls followed by Foursomes.

The winners this week will each take home 400 FedExCup points and $1.268 million of the $8.9 million purse.

This is the second of three events (Corales, Zurich, and CJ CUP Byron Nelson) that will count towards the Aon Next 10 and Aon Swing 5 for the Wells Fargo Championship field in two weeks.

Top of the Board  

Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele (4/1): Teammates too many times to count in international competitions, the California duo makes their fourth consecutive appearance in New Orleans. The buddies have cashed T4-WIN-T11 and are more than comfortable on this course and at this event. Both players rank in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings, the only team who can claim that. Cantlay picked up his annual podium at Harbour Town last week and Schauffele has cashed in the top 10 in eight of his last 11 starts.

Rory McIlroy & Shane Lowry (15/2): Making their Zurich Classic debut, the international Ryder Cup teammates pair up for the first time on TOUR. The Florida neighbors are looking for the spark this spring to shift them into gear for the PGA Championship next month in Louisville. They won’t miss many fairways and greens, but they will not be able to two-putt every green in this cut-throat birdie-fest.

Sahith Theegala & Will Zalatoris (15/2): Running second to Scheffler last week, Theegala added another big finish to his last eight months on TOUR. The winner at Fortinet last fall has five top-10 paydays in 11 starts this season. Zalatoris, who cashed T4 with Nick Hardy in 2022 before missing last season with back surgery, has also been hot on TOUR. Picking up three paydays in his last six starts, the best of the bunch is T2 at The Genesis Invitational at Riviera. First appearance together.

Collin Morikawa & Kurt Kitayama (12/1): Back-to-back top-10 paychecks the last two weeks have turned the spotlight back on the two-time major champion. Partnerships with Hovland and Homa haven’t cracked the code, so he’s trying his neighbor in Las Vegas. Kitayama has only missed one cut this season but has never missed the weekend in two trips to the Big Easy. Another pair that will need at least one putter to get Creole hot!

Nicolai Hojgaard & Rasmus Hojgaard (20/1): TWINS! After cashing T16 on his first visit to the Masters, the higher-rated Dane missed the cut at Corales. Playing four weeks in a row, he will be energized with his brother joining the action. Rasmus is playing for the first time since WD at the Hero Indian Open four weeks ago. There’s no time to be rusty when the cut usually requires 7-under or better to see the weekend.

Tom Hoge & Maverick McNealy (25/1): Too bad this event isn’t at Pebble Beach! Feasting on small greens, TPC Louisiana will provide slightly bigger targets than the famous coastal links. Hoge has never missed a start here since his 2015 debut. Missing the cut in two of the last three editions, this is the fourth consecutive year with a different partner. McNealy, who missed twice with Joseph Bramlett, is the next man up. Cashing in eight straight, he navigated TPC Sawgrass for T9. Dating back to last fall, Hoge has rattled off 12 straight weekends and would have had another top 10 save for a NINE on the final hole at Harbour Town. Super ball-striker meets super short-gamer.

Nick Taylor & Adam Hadwin (25/1): Beginning the week 33/1, the Canadian duo has moved up the board the last two days. Already a winner this season at TPC Scottsdale, Taylor knows he’s auditioning with Hadwin this week for International Captain Mike Weir and the 2024 Presidents Cup in Montreal this September. Cashing in five straight events, Hadwin has produced three top-10 paydays in his last eight tournaments. Cashing T13 on debut in 2022, the runners-up from 2023 posted 63 in Foursomes in the final round, tying the record in that format. I’m expecting another big week.

Players to consider for Top 10, Top 20, or Top 40 action:

Billy Horschel & Tyson Alexander (33/1): Teacher and pupil. The University of Florida Gators should be comfortable in the swamp. Winning last week in the Dominican Republic will just add to the fire for Horschel. Alexander has quietly cashed in his last three and six of eight, and his father was Horschel’s college coach.

Taylor Moore & Matt NeSmith (45/1): The first two times they partnered up, they shared fourth each time. Opening with 60 in 2022, they returned last year to post 26-under, a score that would have won four of the six previous editions.

Davis Thompson & Andrew Novak (45/1): The birdie machine, Thompson, pairs up with the SG: Approach machine, Novak. The Sea Island pals have been piling up the top-25 results individually in early 2024.

Kevin Yu & C.T. Pan (70/1): Trying to prove to Mike Weir that they should be included in the Presidents Cup, the duo from Taiwan will rely on tight ball-striking to give the putters plenty of chances to heat up. The top-10 results have dried up for the pair since the calendar changed to March. Countrymen coming together should inspire.

Pierceson Coody & Parker Coody (80/1): The twins from Texas both found the top 20 last week in the Dominican Republic. Pierceson signed for T18, and Parker cashed his best finish on TOUR with T6. Pushing each other, they won’t need any impetus to get it going in the bayou this week.

Charley Hoffman & Nick Watney (300/1): One of only two teams to play in the previous six events, the veteran duo will rely on the recent form of Hoffman. The Southern California native ran second in Phoenix and shared fourth last week at Corales. Watney’s best days are possibly behind him, but if there’s one final charge, this tournament may provide it.

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