At last! A PGA Tour event that breaks the norm – and it’s a bold move to alter the Classic of New Orleans.
We’re leaving 72-hole stroke plays, and match plays that go on for months, to play a tournament every amateur can relate to – a pairs competition.
And there’s definitely a bit more of a buzz about this week and it has lifted my post-Masters gloom.
Teams will play both foursomes and fourballs in the tournament and, with little form to go on, both oddsmakers and punters are scouring around for clues.
So who do I reckon might have a shot at winning this week?
The team to beat: Henrik Stenson/Justin Rose
Jason Day’s New Orleans’ form makes his partnership with Rickie Fowler an intriguing one. But there’s something about the combination of Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose that just compels you to stick your money down.
Rock solid at Gleneagles three years ago at the Ryder Cup, the duo were fallible at Hazeltine – losing two out of three matches.
Stenson carried Rose then, the Englishman failing miserably with the putter, and the opposite may be true this week. Rose is coming off a play-off loss at the Masters while the super Swede has missed his last three cuts.
Rose’s Classic of New Orleans record is pretty impressive, with two top 10s and a win under the old format in the last five years.
Stenson’s never played here before and that may well be a plus given his recent struggles. He’s too good a player to stay in the doldrums for long, though. Reunited with his playing pal, this could be the week he remembers how to win.
The each-way plays: Branden Grace/Louis Oosthuizen
If you’re talking about chemistry, you can’t go too far wrong with these South African stars.
Mesmerising in the Presidents Cup in 2015, when they won four times together, they crushed combinations of Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.
That’s partnership form that should be strongly noted given the USA’s utter domination of that event through the years.
Oosthuizen has been more circumspect recently but a top 10 in Phoenix, back in February, holds out hope.
The dark horses: Keegan Bradley/Brendan Steele
There’s a lot of what appears strong/weak combinations lower down the field. It would be no surprise – particularly in a new format – to see a big three figure price get hot and storm to victory.
That said, I couldn’t back a pairing like Boo Weekley and Steven Bowditch with someone else’s money so we’re looking further up for an under-rated duo.
Bradley and Steele might just be that. They’re close pals with a bit of form to boot.
Steele won the Safeway Open at the beginning of the season and has recorded five top 20s since. He also put together a nice week at the Masters.
Bradley’s been up and down, and missed the cut last time out in Texas. But he’s got five top 20s in the locker this term and can be formidable when in a hot streak.