From a fantasy perspective, this week’s Zurich Classis is going to be lame. Most fantasy formats can’t quickly change their scoring formats and feeds at the drop of a hat. Maybe next year. From a viewer’s perspective, this week is going to be awesome!
While it won’t exactly rival the Ryder Cup in terms of intensity, it will definitely bring out some new elements that we don’t see week-to-week on TOUR. There will be alternate shot during Rounds 1 and 3 with best ball being played in Round 2 and 4.
With scoring still being STROKE PLAY, we won’t see players dive too deep into their risk-reward bucket, especially during alternate shot, but it will be fun to watch. The golfers seem to agree, just look at the strength of this week’s field versus what the Zurich Classic usually attracts. This event is known for attracting bad weather (an event in Louisiana in late April, who would have guessed) but the top-tier golfers are definitely showing up this year to take part in this new format.
The course is TPC Lousiana, a lengthy Pete Dye Design that has plenty of hazards lurking but not too difficult if you play smart golf. Keep your eye on the forecast but this event is no stranger to lift, clean, and place or heavy gusts of wind.
Some comparible events I found include: THE PLAYERS, Shell Houston Open, St Jude Classic, Waste Management Phoenix Open, and the Honda Classic.
Teams to Watch
Daniel Berger/Thomas Pieters … Possibly the most interesting team to watch this week. Berger had this to say about the layout in 2015, “kind of reminds me of a Florida-style golf course, so I’m used to kind of seeing water on one side of the hole. You’ve just got to pick your targets and get good shots.” and “I just feel comfortable out here.” Add in Pieters who proved more-than-worthy in team competition (dominant performance at 2016 Ryder Cup). I’m going to make them my TEAM TO BEAT.
Byeong Hun An/Seung-Yul Noh … The duo has already been posting Instagram strories together over the last few weeks, so you know the team chemistry should be there. Plus, Noh is a past champ here (2014) and An lost in a playoff during the weather-shorterend version last year. A very nice sleeper squad.
Jamie Lovemark/Luke Donald … The Bears Club duo, perhaps this team has more practice rounds together under their belts than most would expect. If a scrambling competition breaks out during the event, my money is on these guys. Lovemark also lost in a playoff here last year.
Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose … A classical duo that is nearly unbeatable when they’re clicking. Stenson has been far from clicking, but maybe a little team pressure will kick him back into gear.
Kyle Stanley/Ryan Ruffels … I’ve already highlighted An/Noh as a nice sleeper squad to watch by Stanley-Ruffels is my dark horse pick to contend. From tee-to-green this team stacks up with almost anyone in the field. Pete Dye forces golfers into hitting plenty of long approaches here, making Ruffels high ball flight very advantageous. Add in some status motiviation for Ruffels, BINGO.
Graham DeLaet/David Hearn … The Canucks that have been waiting so long to earn their maiden wins. It would be kind of funny if they finally sealed the deal here, giving them a PGA TOUR title, but with an asterisk.
My Top 25 Teams for the 2017 Zurich Classic
1. Daniel Berger & Thomas Pieters
2. Jason Day & Rickie Fowler
3. Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson
4. Jordan Spieth & Ryan Palmer
5. Bubba Watson & J.B. Holmes
6. Byeong Hun An & Seung-yul Noh
7. Ryan Ruffels & Kyle Stanley
8. Luke Donald & Jamie Lovemark
9. Graham DeLaet & David Hearn
10. Charley Hoffman & Nick Watney
11. Keegan Bradley & Brendan Steele
12. Russell Henley & Blayne Barber
13. Branden Grace & Louis Oosthuizen
14. Justin Thomas & Bud Cauley
15. Jason Dufner & Patton Kizzire
16. Kevin Chappell & Gary Woodland
17. Harris English & Hudson Swafford
18. Tony Finau & Daniel Summerhays
19. Patrick Reed & Patrick Cantlay
20. Jhonnatan Vegas & Fabian Gomez
21. Patrick Rodgers & Cameron Tringale
22. Scott Brown & Kevin Kisner
23. Russell Knox & Kevin Streelman
24. Brandon Hagy & Michael Kim
25. Robert Streb & Troy Merritt