Power Rankings: Zurich Classic
3 Min Read
For many who visit the vibrant city of New Orleans, it’s an experience best chosen to be shared. From the food to the music the, yes, golf, doing it alone misses the point.
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans operates within that spirit. For the sixth consecutive edition, entrants join forces in two-man teams in pursuit of official PGA TOUR victories, FedExCup points and much more. Continue reading beneath the projected contenders for more on that, the format and other details.
|10||Matt Fitzpatrick & Alex Fitzpatrick||The younger of the brothers is making his PGA TOUR debut as a professional this week, while Matt is on the bounce of victory at Harbour Town where the family has many memories. It’s a compelling connection that defies the quantifiable.|
|9||Harris English & Tom Hoge||Hoge has been a regular at TPC Louisiana but this is his partner’s first visit since 2019. English’s T2 at Bay Hill relieved some pressure in the long-term, while Hoge prevailed with Sahith Theegala (below) at the QBE Shootout in December.|
|8||Victor Perez & Thomas Detry||The tournament debutants present a compelling case. Perez, a non-member from France, is no stranger to the PGA TOUR and he’s third in the Race to Dubai. Detry, a TOUR rookie from Belgium, is 37th in the FedExCup with three top 10s.|
|7||Si Woo Kim & Tom Kim||If Tom Kim’s debut transpires anything like his foray at the Presidents Cup, it will be appointment viewing. He’s still not yet one full year into his PGA TOUR career, but he’s among the most electric. This is Si Woo Kim’s first visit since 2019.|
|6||Kurt Kitayama & Taylor Montgomery||The former UNLV teammates still call the area home, so they’re among the natural collaborations. Kitayama still is buzzing since his PGA TOUR breakthrough at Bay Hill, while Montgomery continues to pace his rookie class.|
|5||Sahith Theegala & Justin Suh||With seven top 10s this season, Theegala has found a stride no matter the venue or magnitude of competition. He also won the QBE Shootout (with Tom Hoge) in December. The consistent Suh placed T11 (with Doug Ghim) here in 2021.|
|4||Sungjae Im & Keith Mitchell||Since a pair of T2s last summer, Im hasn’t relented, while Mitchell has been potent often enough to be threat that won’t go away. They’re a combined 26-for-30 with eight top 10s this season. Mitchell partnered with Brandt Snedeker for a T4 in 2021.|
|3||Collin Morikawa & Max Homa||Seems unfair that the Cal Berkeley products can tag-team, but in a combined five starts and with similarly capable teammates, neither has recorded a top-15 finish in the format. Still, neither has done anything to warrant a quiet week, either.|
|2||Sam Burns & Billy Horschel||No one has fed off the format more than Horschel, and it might be what he needs to shed free from his current funk. These two answered a T4 in their debut as a duo in 2021 with a runner-up last year. Burns recently won the Match Play.|
|1||Xander Schauffele & Patrick Cantlay||The defending champs are proving how hard it is to win as neither has picked off a victory in 2022-23. That’s still fact over friction as each has been dialed in otherwise. Fresh off a third (Cantlay) and a fourth (Schauffele) at Harbour Town.|
OTHER TEAMS CONSIDERED
• Nick Taylor & Adam Hadwin
• Brandon Wu & Joseph Bramlett
• Ben Griffin & Ryan Gerard
• Sam Saunders & Eric Cole
• Thorbjørn Olesen & Nicolai Højgaard
What better way to reenter the steady stream of competition on which the rank and file can rely regularly than the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Pressure is divided and successes are enhanced with contributions multiplied among 80 partnerships at TPC Louisiana.
The course and the format remain the same.
TPC Louisiana is a stock par 72 that tips at 7,425 yards. Overseeded bermuda greens are ready to run to 12 feet on the Stimpmeter, at least when the weather cooperates. More on that below. The only layer of rough is two inches deep. It’s not overseeded and it’s entirely playable at this time of year. Because of the dimension of the greens, which also are below average in size, the combination of distance control and precision on approach tends to identify the contenders.
Although the 72-hole scoring record of 29-under 259 established by the defending champions, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, might hold, it’s not immune to the possibility of being broken. The entire field will race out of the gates in the first round when better ball is used to measure scoring. Alternate shot will be used for the second round after which the low 33 teams and ties will survive to play the third and final rounds. Better ball (R3) and alternate shot (R4) will follow.
Last year, the dynamic duo of Cantlay and Schauffele opened with 13-under 59 and went wire-to-wire. They answered with respective rounds of 68, 60 and 72 to win by two.
Each member of the winning team is credited with an official PGA TOUR victory. He also will bank 400 FedExCup points, which is the average of first (500) and second (300) in standard individual competitions. Each winner also will earn $1,242,700 of the record purse of $8.6 million.
The winners also will be exempt into next month’s PGA Championship and the 2024 editions of the Sentry Tournament of Champions and THE PLAYERS Championship. Membership exemptions for both will be extended through at least 2025.
Because of the format, Official World Golf Ranking points are not on the table, so the compromise is that divisors cannot increase. It’s a free play as it concerns the OWGR.
Next week’s Mexico Open at Vidanta is, eponymously, an open, so the top-10 exemption will apply. However, and again, because of the format at the Zurich, only the top-five teams (consisting of 10 golfers) are eligible for it.
Conditions typical in the spring in these parts are expected this week; that is, there’s a little bit of everything. After a glorious Thursday when the sun will shine and the highest daytime temperature of the tournament might eclipse 80 degrees, a system bringing rain and boomers will threaten by Friday afternoon. It will linger into Saturday, but once it’s gone, a cooling will commence. It may not touch 70 degrees on Sunday when the wind will push in from the north. Moderate breezes will prevail from the southeasterly direction until then.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
WEDNESDAY: Golfbet Insider
SUNDAY: Payouts and Points, Medical Extensions, Qualifiers, Reshuffle
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.