Zurich Classic Offers Refreshing Format

By Nick Heidelberger

Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer are teamed up again

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans is the PGA Tour’s annual equivalent of finding $10 in a pair of jeans you haven’t worn in months. It’s a nice little treat, even if it doesn’t last long.

The Zurich became the PGA Tour’s first two-man team event since 1981 when it changed formats in 2017, giving fans a reprieve from the individual stroke play routine. Instead, the Zurich has opted for two rounds of Four-ball (the first and third) and two rounds of Foursomes, also known as Alternate Shot (the second and fourth), giving fans a little something different to consume. It doesn’t hurt that the fan-favorite Ryder Cup employs both formats.

After the 2020 Zurich Classic was canceled due to COVID, the tournament returns to TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana, where it has been contested since 2005.

Splitting The Prize

The Zurich’s two-man format brings some non-traditional ways of allocating the benefits that accompany a PGA Tour win. The $7.4 million purse and the FedEx Cup points will be distributed in the same manner: the points and money normally awarded to every two positions will be split evenly among teammates. For example, instead of a win being worth 500 FedEx Cup points and second place being worth 300, each member of the winning team will receive 400 points, evenly splitting the first and second place points.

A win, however, will be counted as an official PGA Tour win for both partners, and each player will benefit from the exemptions that accompany winning, including eligibility into Invitationals such as The Players Championship, and Sentry Tournament of Champions. An invitation from the PGA of America into the PGA Championship is also on the table for both members of the winning team.

Teams To Watch

Eighty teams (160 players) will tee it up at the 2021 Zurich Classic, and there are a handful of teams to keep an eye on. Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer will team up again to try to defend their 2019 title. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele represent the only all OWGR top-10 team, as Schauffele is fifth in the Official World Golf Rankings and Cantlay is 10th.

Two of the top three ranked Australians in the world, Cameron Smith (25th) and Marc Leishman (37) will team up. Smith won the Zurich with Jonas Blixt in 2017, the first year it became a team event, topping Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown in a playoff. Brown and Kisner are playing together again this year.

South African major champions Louis Oosthuizen (2010 Open) and Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters) will team up, as well as British tandem Tyrrell Hatton and Danny Willett.

Past champions Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy, who won together in 2018, are both in the field, but playing with different partners. Horschel will team up with Sam Burns, while Piercy will play with 19-year-old Akshay Bhatia.

How to Watch

The Zurich Classic will be broadcast on Golf Channel and CBS.

Thursday-Friday: 3:30 p.m. -6:30 p.m. (Golf Channel)
Saturday-Sunday: 1 p.m. -3 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3 p.m. -6 p.m. (CBS)

Image: Stan Badz/PGA TOUR via Getty Images