The Zurich Classic is the only tournament on the PGA Tour played using a team format, with 80 two-man teams comprising the field. Until 2017, the event was played as an individual stroke play tournament, and it dates back to 1938 as the Crescent City Open.
It’s played at the TPC New Orleans, a par-72 layout designed by Pete Dye, marking the second consecutive week the Tour makes a stop at one of the legendary designer’s courses. Located just outside the city, it generally yields some low scores.
The tournament was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, and the defending champions from 2019 are Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer. The winners each receive 400 FedEx Cup points, splitting the 800 total points available for the winner and runner-up.
Thursday’s first round and Saturday’s third round are played as best ball, with the other two rounds alternate shot. The top 35 teams and ties after Friday’s second round make the cut for the weekend.
Rahm and Palmer lead the futures odds list at +600, with both coming into New Orleans playing pretty solid golf.
Rahm and Palmer lead the futures odds list at +600, with both coming into New Orleans playing pretty solid golf. Even though Rahm hasn’t won in the 2021 season, he has eight top 10 finishes in 12 events and hasn’t missed a cut.
Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele are next at +650, and while they can be a formidable duo that could be seen in the Ryder Cup in September, Cantlay has been out of form the last month.
The 2018 winner Cameron Smith will team with Marc Leishman instead of Jonas Blixt this time around, and they are at +1400, along with the young duo of Colin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff. The interesting pairing of Scottie Scheffler and Bubba Watson round out the top five at +1600.
Favorite Picks at the Zurich Classic
Although betting favorites haven’t fared well on the PGA Tour recently, Rahm and Palmer can’t be overlooked, particularly given their recent play and three-shot win over Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia in 2019. Rahm is due for a victory, and his pairing with Palmer should be a comfortable one.
The Leishman and Smith team also pairs a couple of players that come in with some solid play of late. Smith shot a 62 at Harbour Town last week but faded on the weekend. Leishman has been making appearances on leaderboards throughout the season, and both have international team experience.
A couple of players that can hit it a long way and make a lot of individual birdies are Cameron Champ and Tony Finau. Finau has famously gone winless since his first victory on the PGA Tour in 2016, but a team event could take some of the pressure off the 31-year-old, who is ranked 12th in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) and 11th in the FedEx Cup point standings.
Finau has consistently finished in the top 10 since his win, and Champ could free him up to take a few more chances than if he was playing on his own. Champ should also benefit from Finau’s experience and steady play.