This week’s action on the PGA Tour sees the third playing of The Zurich Classic of New Orleans since it became a pair’s event in 2017, while the European Tour returns with the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco.
Firstly, taking a look at the Zurich Classic and for the second week running we find ourselves on a Pete Dye design, TPC Louisiana, a par 72 playing to 7425 yards,
The format used is ‘best ball’ on Thursday and Saturday and ‘alternate shot’ on Friday and Sunday.
In an attempt to add some further razzmatazz to the unique formula pairings are announced on the first tee to ‘walk on music’ and the award for best double act on this front last year undoubtedly went to Crane and Cejka’s ‘performance’ to Whitesnake…
If you’ve not seen it already it’s a must view below…
Anyway, enough air guitar nonsense, on to the more important issue of who to back.
There are two things that grab me when looking at the brief history of this tournament since it became a pairs event. Firstly, three of the four winning players, Blixt & Smith, the 2017 winners, and Billy Horschel, one-half of last years winning combo with Scott Piercy, are all residents of Ponte Vedra Beach, local to the Pete Dye-designed TPC Sawgrass.
All of these three players have all shown good form on Dye courses in the past, with Horschel most notably a previous individual winner on this track.
The second is that one half of each pair, Smith in 2017 and Horschel last year, had been in great form coming in and had inspired their partner to find their game during the week.
With this in mind, tempting as it was to side with the Holmes and Watson partnership purely for the headline writers dream, for our lead selection I can’t get away from the pairing of the two Patricks, Cantlay and Reed (12/1), who have finished seventh and 14th together here in the past two years.
Cantlay arrives in fantastic form having finished ninth at The Masters and third last week at Hilton Head, his third consecutive top ten on that Pete Dye design, while Reed, after a solid showing at Augusta, will hopefully be in a far more relaxed attitude than we saw from him in the lead up to his Master’s defence.
Strong cases can naturally be made for the market-leading pairs of Day and Scott at 6/1 and Fleetwood and Garcia (15/2), however, at the prices, I prefer the chances of close friends Oosthuizen and Schwartzel (22/1) who teamed up in this event for the first time last year to finish third.
Identically to last year, Louis is playing really solidly of late and Charl is struggling and my hope is that Louis can repeat last year’s trick of sparking Charl in to form, which if so should see them go very close again.
With Paddy paying to seven places each-way it makes sense to explore some of the bigger-priced options and the two pairings that catch my eye further down the list are Stuard and Knox at 66/1, as well as Streelman and Taylor (80/1).
Stuard, who won his lone PGA Tour event here in 2016, has three top 20s in his last four starts, while his partner this year Knox, another Ponte Vedra Beach resident, was seventh here last year when paired with Martin Laird.
As for Streelman and Taylor, Streelman has played really well on his last two starts and I can see his ball striking matching well with Taylor’s renowned putting touch.
Taking a brief look at the Trophee De Hassan II on the European Tour we find ourselves at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam just outside of Rabat.
A par 73 measuring over 7600 yards AND with five Par 5s in play you would think that this would be a ‘bombers paradise’, however over the three years the event has been staged here this has not been the case.
The two that stand out to me are the returning to form Englishman Andy Sullivan (22/1) who was seventh here last year and has finished seventh and 11th in his last two starts I also like Irishman Paul Dunne (33/1) who was second here a couple of years ago and who played solidly recently when finishing 12th on a rare foray to the PGA Tour at the Corales Puntacana Championship.
To win: Cantlay and Reed 12/1.
Each-way chances: Oosthuizen and Schwartzel 22/1, Stuard and Knox 66/1, Streelman and Taylor 80/1.
To win: Andy Sullivan 22/1.
Each-way chances: Paul Dunne 33/1
* All odds correct at time of posting.