The First Look: Zurich Classic
April 21, 2017
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- April 21, 2017
- Justin Rose won the gold and Henrik Stenson won the silver at last summer's Olympics. (Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
This is a landmark week for the PGA TOUR as it holds its first team event since 1981. The PGA TOUR has held 61 previous official team events, with two pros paired together, using various formats.
How It Works
This week's format will be a 72-hole stroke play event featuring Foursomes (alternate shot) during the first and third rounds and Four-Ball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds. The starting field will consist of 80 teams (160 players). Following the conclusion of the second round, there will be a cut to the low 35 teams and ties at the 35th position.
FOURSOMES (Alternate Shot - Round 1&3): 2-person teams will play one ball with the two teammates alternating hitting the shots. The player who tees off will rotate on each hole. Example: Player A and Player B are partners. On the first hole, A tees off; B plays the second shot; A plays the third shot; and so on until the ball is holed. The total strokes taken will result in the team’s score for that hole.
FOUR-BALL (Best-Ball - Round 2&4): 2-person teams will each play their own ball throughout the entirety of the round. Example: On the first hole, both golfers within each team tee off, and all four golfers within a group play their own golf balls until holed. The partners compare scores: Which of them made the better score on the hole? If Golfer A scores 4 and Golfer B scores 6 on the first hole, then Side 1's score on that hole is 4. The two golfers on a team mark down the lower of their two scores on each hole, then tally it up at the end of the round for their team total.
In case of a playoff, the format will be Four-Ball (Best-Ball).
• FIELD: Playing this week.
• TEAMS: Confirmed two-man teams.
• COURSE: TPC Louisiana, 7,425 yards, par 72. Something of an anomaly among Pete Dye creations, the course already ranked among the PGA TOUR’s top third to take it low before the format change that will debut two-man teams this year. Winding through some 250 acres of Louisiana wetlands among stands of cypress and oak trees, Dye and consultant Steve Elkington added more than 100 bunkers and five ponds to increase the challenge. Several large waste bunkers also are featured early in the back nine. The Zurich Classic relocated there in 2005, though flooding a year later forced a one-time return to English Turn G&CC.
• FEDEXCUP: Winning partners receive 400 points apiece.
• CHARITY: The Fore!Kids Foundation, which has given more than $30 million to children’s service organizations in Louisiana since its inception in 1958. Charitable distributions focus primarily on healthcare and education, with contributions to more than 110 outlets last year.
• FIELD WATCH: Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, last year’s Olympic gold and silver medalists, and Jason Day/Rickie Fowler are the marquee duos under the new tandem format. Others of note: Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer, Branden Grace/Louis Oosthuizen and Bubba Watson/J.B. Holmes. … In all, 12 of the top 25 players in the world rankings will tee it up, though only Rose/Stenson and Day/Fowler place both members in that stratosphere. … Bobby Wyatt, fourth last year on a sponsor exemption, is back with partner Trey Mullinax. … Brooks Koepka returns after a two-year absence to play with his brother. Chase Koepka is a member of Europe’s Challenge Tour, the same path big brother took to the big stage.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 262, Chip Beck (1988 at Lakewood CC). TPC Louisiana record: 266, Justin Rose (2015).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 61, Paul Stankowski (1st round, 2001 at English Turn G&CC). TPC Louisiana record: 62, Ben Martin (1st round, 2014).
• LAST YEAR: Brian Stuard held steadiest through a marathon slog that required five days to play 56 holes, beating Jamie Lovemark and Byeong-Hun An in a playoff for his first PGA TOUR win. Stuard never trailed after his opening 8-under-par 64, going bogey-free for the entire week as challengers rose and fell. More than 4 ½ inches of rain fell during the tournament, forcing delays on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday before the decision was made to shorten to 54 holes. Stuard’s closing 69 wasn’t even among the top 20 scores from the final round, but it was enough to get to extra holes with An (65) and Lovemark (68). An misplayed two approach shots on the first playoff hole, and Lovemark found a muddy miss left of the green one hole later.
• STORYLINES: Team competition returns to the TOUR for the first time in 3 ½ decades, going back to the 1981 Walt Disney World Team Championship. Tandems will play alternate-shot on Thursday and Saturday; best-ball on Friday and Sunday. ... FedExCup points and prize money are split as though partners tied. For instance, champions divvy up the 500 points usually given to a tournament winner and 300 for second place – coming out to 400 points each. … Rose and Stenson already have tasted success as a duo, posting a 4-2 mark as a European Ryder Cup pairing. They went 3-0 in 2014, during which they set a Ryder Cup record with 12 birdies in a four-balls match. … Will the new format change the trend of first-time winners? Stuard was the fourth in the past five editions to make the Zurich Classic his first PGA TOUR victory.
• SHORT CHIPS: Louisiana native David Toms, whose 2001 win over Phil Mickelson foretold a PGA Championship reprise, is absent for the first time since 2008. He owns 23 starts in his home-state event. … It’s the last chance for players to gain a berth in THE PLAYERS Championship by moving into the top 10 in FedExCup points or top 50 of the world rankings. One last spot will be held for the winner of next week’s Wells Fargo Championship, if not already in. … Statistical oddity: You have to go back 122 holes to see a bogey from an eventual Zurich Classic winner. Before Stuard’s bogey-free performance last year, Rose played his final 66 holes in 2015 without giving a shot back to par.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3:30-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
• PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (featured groups), 3:30-6:30 p.m. (featured holes). Click here to sign up for PGA TOUR LIVE.
• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).
• FANTASY: Due to the format of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, it is not included in the schedule for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by Servpro. To compete during this week's event, you can make a pick in PGA TOUR Fantasy One & Done.
For more on all the courses in the TPC network, visit TPC.com.
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