Format change brings potential Sunday volatility at Zurich Classic
April 25, 2018
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Spieth & Palmer comment before Zurich
AVONDALE, La – A small tweak in the format of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans looks set to ensure some Sunday fireworks at TPC Louisiana.
While last year teams played alternate shot Foursomes on Thursday and Saturday and Four-ball on Friday and Sunday the order will be flipped this time around.
The end result means the volatile Foursomes on Sunday will open up multiple possibilities for winning teams.
With only one ball in play per team the potential for mistakes is heightened as is the value for a low round.
It will likely lessen the chance of a leading team running away with the tournament. It will also ensure a swift pace of play on Sunday helping any possible playoff scenario.
If a sudden death playoff is needed – as it was last year between eventual champions Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt and Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown - the teams will switch between alternate shot and Four-ball each hole as required.
“We're pretty excited about the changes in the format,” Jordan Spieth said.
“You can lead, four or five behind, and certainly still be in it in an alternate shot format, but in best ball it's probably too difficult to overcome.”
Spieth partnered with fellow Texan Ryan Palmer last year to finish fourth, unable to reel in the leaders Sunday despite a 64 to finish.
The pair return this year ready to make amends with Spieth expecting the final three holes to produce plenty of excitement.
TPC Louisiana finishes with a short 355-yard par-4, a testing 215-yard par-3 and then a par-5 18th. All three holes have water in play.
“There’s a birdie opportunity on 16 and then 17, in alternate shot, when you feel like you have that extra pressure of a teammate you are playing for… that will certainly add to that shot on Sunday if you are in contention,” Spieth continued.
“Playing 18 there is an opportunity for eagle but hazards on the hole as well. You can come back from three down with three to go in alternate shot just like that out here.”
David Duval, who will take a break from his regular Golf Channel analysis to make a rare playing appearance with Jim Furyk, believes the switch will certainly bring excitement to the fans on site and at home.
“It will be a lot more of a hold-on as opposed to a catch-up,” he said.
William McGirt, playing with local favorite Sam Burns, hopes to be one of those teams in the mix on Sunday.
The former Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance champion feels like tactics will prove pivotal this year.
“You can really hit a stretch where you don't hit a putt for five or six holes depending on how you're playing so I think there will be a lot more strategy involved,” McGirt said of Sunday’s final round.
“You really have to think it through as to who is going to tee off on what holes.
“I think it'll make for some good TV on Sunday, because you're not necessarily going to have a group that's in the last two or three groups of the day with a good chance to win.”
Jason Day, who will partner with countryman Ryan Ruffels after missing the cut with Rickie Fowler last year, was also welcoming of the change.
For Day it was more about the opening round and playing his own ball from the start.
“It gives you a chance to feel your way into the tournament a little, although you will still need to get away to a good start,” Day said.
“Whichever way it is you need to just play good golf.”