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Bolton: Conditions aligning for wire-to-wire success at Zurich Classic of New Orleans

7 Min Read

Golfbet News


    Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf

    If you’ve ever wondered how much tougher betting on golf could get, welcome to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans where 80 two-man teams are lined up in the bayou.

    Whenever combinations are introduced in golf, an already heady challenge is multiplied. Furthermore, because the tournament alternates between Four-balls/better ball (for the first and third rounds) and Foursomes/alternate shot (for the second and final rounds), this is betting at an advanced level, which is to say to be more careful than usual.

    In the WEATHER section below, I propose a prop that makes sense given the variables, so be sure to consider it. The vagaries are another animal. Just like a Presidents Cup, a Ryder Cup and even the Grant Thornton Invitational, we’re relying on so many unquantifiables as it concerns the relationships, familiarity with each other’s skill set and other factors that don’t appear in the box score.

    So, let’s simplify the equation into two parts.

    First, leaning on known personal connections and quality of talent is the gimme. Everyone needs to execute, but the three sets of brothers who have teamed up have an edge for obvious reasons. Exploit it. Replace the typical worries that you would in an individual stroke-play competition with the impact of the wingman.

    In a similar vein, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele adorn the poster for the kind of top-shelf partnership to which many aspire. At +450 to win at BetMGM, that team is the Scottie Scheffler of the possibilities. In this situation that pushes to the extremes, multiply your units in their favor.

    The other component is experience. Course history presents a nonzero value, but it’s not as important as format history; that is, teams who have competed together previously in this tournament even if it resulted in a missed cut.

    Recent form is a wild card because we can’t ignore it but expect veterans to appreciate the significance of the team aspect and how the pressure is lifted because of the support. That goes a long way of defining the kind of success that fixtures Charley Hoffman and Nick Watney have had here, so it’s why their kickback for a top 20 is so tasty. But above all, returning teams no longer are distracted by the anxieties associated with doing it for the first time. It’s one less headwind.

    With PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf dark this week, it’s timely to share that Golfbet Recap publishes shortly after the conclusion of every tournament. The most recent for the RBC Heritage is found here. In it you’ll find all kinds of relevant nuggets as well as how endorsements to which I assigned odds in Sleepers and Golfbet Insider fared.


    Wire-to-wire winner (+800) … Because of how the wind was forecast for the Valero Texas Open three weeks ago, I was this close to including this prop for that tournament. Sure enough, Akshay Bhatia delivered. Now it’s time to put it on the record.

    There’s one or two wire-to-wire winners every season and the format of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans caters to it. With better-ball scoring in the opening round, expect at least one team to threaten the course record of 59 with which Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele opened en route to their, you guessed it, wire-to-wire victory just two years ago.

    The support for a low first-round setting the stage for the long haul is that the wind machine is expected to crank on by Friday’s second round. Because scoring will be alternate shot, it’s reasonable to consider that the first-round leader holds serve atop the leaderboard with a fair answer while the field struggles with challenges in the tougher format and in tough conditions.

    Wind is expected to be strongest on Saturday when better ball is used the second time. In theory, a lead is safer when scoring isn’t as low, especially when two guys are contributing to the bottom line.

    As of now, Sunday’s winds will not relent enough to introduce a crapshoot in the return of alternate shot, so again, having a foundation already built to withstand the elements is as valuable as the knowledge that there shouldn’t be much churn on the leaderboard.


    Nick Hardy and Davis Riley (+180 = Top 20) … The defending champions and tournament record-holders at 30-under 258 fulfilled their projection for a top 10 in Sleepers ahead of that performance. This time around, form for both is just as inconsistent but the successes are more infrequent, so the advice is to backpedal into a feel-good finish for plus value. In full disclosure, my first stop for these two on BetMGM’s board was to review the odds for missing the cut. It’s (-120), which is tied for the worst among 24 offerings.


    Billy Horschel and Tyson Alexander (+150 = Top 20) … With Horschel’s usual partner, Sam Burns, sitting this one out to be with his wife for the birth of their first child, Alexander slides into place seamlessly. Horschel and Alexander were teammates at the University of Florida where the latter’s father, Buddy, was a long-time head coach. Not only is Horschel the only winner of the Zurich Classic in both the individual and team format, but he’s also fresh off a blistering course-record-tying 63 to win the Corales Puntacana Championship. Tyson has been keeping his head above water with six paydays in his last nine starts, a pair of which going for a top 20.

    Andrew Putnam and Joe Highsmith (+190 = Top 20) … This pairing of Pepperdine University products is one of the five in the field with a left-hander. All of the champions in the first six editions of the tournament as a two-man format have been righties, but it’d seem reasonable to consider a baked-in advantage for favorable ball flights in alternate shot. With opposite-handedness, if both prefer a power fade off the tee, then they can strategize who tees off where all the while reducing the stress level to force an awkward angle for both. Basically, there should be more flexibility in the harder type of play. That aside, Putnam has been playing wonderfully and he’s familiar with TPC Louisiana. Highsmith, the lefty and a PGA TOUR rookie, is a debutant, but he’s held his own having cashed five of 10 times and sitting 116th in the FedExCup.

    Carson Young and Ben Martin (+275 = Top 20) … Love this value as much as I love the partnership. These fellow members of Thornblade Club in Greenville, South Carolina, also are products of Clemson University, so while this is first-time partnership in the tournament, the relationship has considerable seasoning. Each also has experience at TPC Louisiana, so neither is cold to the property. Altogether, Young’s open to 2024 and Martin’s most recent play would comprise a fine season, so there’s been enough about which not to be concerned from our standpoint for a couple of guys in position to pay off the special opportunity.


    NOTE: Not everything needs a setup. For a variety of reasons, these lines are too enticing to ignore.

    • Daniel Berger and Victor Perez (+188 = Top 20)
    • Ryan Brehm and Mark Hubbard (+300 = Top 20)
    • Parker Coody and Pierceson Coody (+600 = Top 10)
    • Luke List and Henrik Norlander (+220 = Top 20)


    Taylor Montgomery … There always are many guys who take two consecutive weeks off and don’t land in this section, but his fortnight away was preceded by the first mid-tournament withdrawal of his young career. It occurred after an opening 81 at the Valero Texas Open. An explanation wasn’t released but that he’s ready to give it a go with his new partner, Ben Griffin, at TPC Louisiana is a sigh of relief for full-season investors. Montgomery debuted here last year and placed T19 alongside Kurt Kitayama despite a closing quadruple bogey-9. In what was also Griffin’s first appearance, he missed the cut with fellow University of North Carolina product Ryan Gerard.

    For resources to overcome a gambling problem, call or text 1-800-GAMBLER today.

    Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.

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