Which team to back at the Zurich Classic
The PGA Tour heads back to TPC Louisiana for the second renewal of the newly reformatted Zurich Classic. Bored of the regular dose of 72-hole stroke-play events? Well you’re in luck, as the world’s best players pick a partner and tee it up in a two-man team event.
How does it work?
It’s almost exactly the same as last year’s tournament. The players will play over four days – Thursday to Sunday – with round one and three best ball format, and rounds two and four as alternate shot (this has been reversed from last year).
A new addition to this year’s event is the introduction of walk-up music for teams that make it to the weekend, which could add a bit of, shall we say, spice to proceedings.
Last year, Kevin Kisner, playing alongside Scott Brown, chipped in on the final hole to take it to a Monday play-off against the paring of Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt, with the latter team getting the win. Both of those teams will play again this week, but the field has had a noticeable improvement with many of the stars opting in, having given it a miss last year.
Zurich Classic betting: Keel’s top tips
Matchplay golf is notoriously difficult to predict. Team golf is even more difficult with even more variables thrown in. Which players will play well together? Does course form count for anything? What about recent form, does that go out of the window?
A cautious approach is advised on a week that is sure to throw up a few surprises. Just look at last year: Kelly Kraft and Kevin Tway finished 3rd, Angel Cabrera and Julian Etulain finished 5th, whereas the Ryder Cup power pairing of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson missed the cut, as did Jason Day and Rickie Fowler.
As a result, I’ve picked out three pairings I believe can turn a profit this week…
The pairing that caught my eye as soon as they were announced was Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Paisley – the latter missed the cut last time out in Texas, but I’m willing to overlook that and predict that this all-English paring will thrive in this format.
There have been fewer better players in Europe than this pair over the last year. Fleetwood won the Race to Dubai last year thanks to two wins and several superb performances in the majors and the WGCs, and then he kicked off the season with a win in Abu Dhabi.
And then we have the much less experienced Paisley who has looked brilliant ever since he got over the line to win in South Africa at the start of the year. The fun format should suit this pair nicely, and the two have the potential to dovetail perfectly. In Fleetwood we have a ball-striking extraordinaire, and in Paisley we have one of the best current putters in Europe. If they can put that together, a formidable partnership may be formed, and with odds of 40/1 at 888Sport, they’re certainly worth chancing.
We’ll then pivot down to the all-South African team of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. It would have been nice to see Branden Grace join up with Oosthuizen again to replicate their Presidents Cup successes, but Schwartzel is by no means a weak link and it’s likely that Louis’s calming presence may just bring out the best of his compatriot.
These two are world class players, and I was surprised to see them priced at 45/1 given their major championship history. Indeed, both have a win apiece, and if they both play to anywhere near their best, they’ll surely be in contention on Sunday.
We’ve backed England, we’ve backed South Africa, now let’s continue that theme and back the USA in the form of Jimmy Walker and Sean O’Hair at 33/1.
Both of these are in red hot form and only came up a few shots short last week at TPC San Antonio. Walker appears to be back to his best and to full fitness after his medical issues, and O’Hair may just feel more comfortable getting back to the winner’s circle when playing in a team event.
That proved the case last year with Jonas Blixt, who was a proven PGA Tour winner but hadn’t won for a while. Playing alongside Cameron Smith was just the lift he needed to return back to winning ways. Jimmy Walker, a major champion, might just prove to be the ideal man to lift O’Hair from out of his slump.