- Everything you need to know about the PGA Tour's only official team event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Golf's post-Masters decompression period rolls on this week with the PGA Tour's only official team event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
If last week's RBC Heritage served as an unofficial spring break—an event as laidback as Augusta is intense—this week is as close to a party as you'll see on the PGA Tour: Two-man teams playing different formats, making birdies in bunches, having walk-up songs, all in arguably America's most festive city.
There are 80 two-man teams teeing it up in the Big Easy, and each will play best-ball on Thursday and alternate shot on Friday before the field is cut to the top 35 teams and ties. The remaining pairs will play best-ball again on Saturday and alternate shot for Sunday's final round. This has been a subject of some controversy, as the format used to be flipped, with best ball (and the birdies it brings) on Sunday before last year. The argument in favor of having alternate shot on Sunday is a team can't win if only one of its players is playing well, so it's probably a better way to crown a true champion. But it is less fun. That much is for sure.
The winners of this week's event will not receive an invite to the Masters, and they won't earn any world ranking points, but it does count as an official PGA Tour victory. That means, crucially, a two-year exemption for both members of the winning team, as well as spots into the PGA Championship and Players Championship. Thus, this tournament offers a path to full PGA Tour status for someone like Chase Koepka, who is teaming up with his more-famous brother at this shindig.
On another note, the Zurich Classic is a case-study in a tournament reinventing itself—rather than continue as one of countless meh 72-hole stroke play events, the event went all-in on a fun, alternative format and has since carved out a nice niche for itself.
The Zurich has been played at TPC Louisiana since 2005, though the event was moved to English Turn Golf and Country Club in 2006 due to damage from Hurricane Katrina. TPC Louisiana is actually located in Avondale and is about a 30 minute drive from the French Quarter. It's a 7,425-yard, par-72 layout designed by Pete Dye in conjunction with 1995 PGA Championship winner Steve Elkington, and it opened in 2004. It finishes with a 589-yard par-5 with water all along the right side, a hole designed with Sunday drama in mind.
Scores have been low in recent years. Before the -22 put up last year by the victorious duo of Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy, and the -27 winning mark the year before, the average winner's score for the five years prior (when it was a normal stroke-play event) was -19.
A solid field this week despite their being no world ranking points at stake. That speaks to how much players enjoy the rare opportunity to compete with a partner, and how awesome a host city New Orleans is.
Again, there are 80 teams of two, so we'll leave a full list of tee times to the PGA Tour website...but here are some more notable pairings. All times EST:
Brooks Koepka/Chase Koepka - 7:26 a.m.* Thursday/12:57 p.m. Friday
Jason Day/Adam Scott - 7:39 a.m.*/1:08 p.m.
Jon Rahm/Ryan Palmer - 7:52 a.m./1:19 p.m.*
Sergio Garcia/Tommy Fleetwood - 7:52 a.m.*/1:19 p.m.
Davis Love III/Dru Love - 12:18 p.m./8:31 a.m.*
Cameron Champ/Sam Burns - 12:18 p.m.*/8:31 a.m.
Graeme McDowell/Henrik Stenson - 12:44 p.m./8:53 a.m.*
Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel - 12:31 p.m./8:42 a.m.*
Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay - 12:44 p.m./8:53 a.m.*
* denotes 10th-tee start
Probably the coolest part of this event is each team having a walk-up song that plays as they approach the tee. Most often, the song plays for just 10ish seconds before the atmosphere returns to a normal, quiet first-tee atmosphere. Last year, however, Kevin Kisner opted to have his song—"Slippery" by Migos— keep playing while he hit his first tee shot. And it was glorious:
Some of the better song choices from this year's field:
Adam Schenk/Tyler Duncan and Colt Knost/Boo Weekley and Harold Varner II/Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt/Robert Streb: "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X
Brooks Koepka/Chase Koepka: "Bad Boys for Life" by P. Diddy
Henrik Stenson/Graeme McDowell: "Wake Me Up" by Avicii
Alex Prugh/Alex Cejka- "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen
Joel Dahmen/Brandon Harkins: "Baby Shark" by Pinkfong
Thursday, Friday: 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. EST on Golf Channel
Saturday, Sunday: 1-2:45 p.m. on Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. on CBS Sports
Live streaming of featured groups availalbe on PGA Tour Live, and simulcasts available on NBC Sports' and CBS Sports' streaming platforms.
Jason Day/Adam Scott-7/1
Tommy Fleetwood/Sergio Garcia-8/1
Patrick Cantlay/Patrick Reed-12/1
Ryan Palmer/Jon Rahm-16/1
Billy Horschel/Scott Piercy-18/1
J.B. Holmes/Bubba Watson-18/1
Tony Finau/Kyle Stanley-18/1
Graeme McDowell/Henrik Stenson-20/1
Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel-25/1
Scott Brown/Kevin Kisner-30/1
Abraham Ancer/Jhonattan Vegas-30/1
Lucas Glover/Chez Reavie-30/1
Sam Horsfield/Ian Poulter-40/1
Charley Hoffman/Nick Watney-40/1
Brooks Koepka/Chase Koepka-40/1
Aaron Baddeley/Adam Hadwin-40/1
Padraig Harrington/Shane Lowry-40/1
Branden Grace/Justin Harding-40/1
Jason Kokrak/Chris Stroud-40/1
Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith-40/1
Jason Dufner/Pat Perez-50/1
Dylan Frittelli/Joaquin Niemann-50/1
Sam Burns/Cameron Champ-50/1
Russell Knox/Brian Stuard-50/1
Trey Mullinax/Scott Stallings-60/1
Brian Harman/Patton Kizzire-60/1
Matt Jones/J.J. Spaun-60/1
Luke Donald/Brendan Steele-60/1
Corey Conners/Mackenzie Hughes-60/1
Sungjae Im/Whee Kim-60/1
Brian Gay/Rory Sabbatini-60/1
Kevin Streelman/Vaughn Taylor-80/1
Brice Garnett/Chesson Hadley-80/1
Martin Laird/Nick Taylor-80/1
Sangmoon Bae/Si Woo Kim-80/1
Sung Kang/Danny Lee-80/1
Michael Kim/C.T. Pan-80/1
Austin Cook/Andrew Landry-100/1
Ryan Blaum/Russell Henley-100/1
Keegan Bradley/Jon Curran-100/1
David Hearn/Seamus Power-100/1
Kelly Kraft/Kevin Tway-100/1
Joel Dahmen/Brandon Harkins-100/1
Bill Haas/Shawn Stefani-125/1
Troy Merritt/Robert Streb-125/1
Stephen Jaeger/J.T. Poston-125/1
Chris Kirk/Sepp Straka-125/1
Anirban Lahiri/Shubhankar Sharma-125/1
Adam Svensson/Ollie Schniederjans-125/1
Wyndham Clark/Ben Crane-125/1
Matt Every/Kyoung-Hoon Lee-125/1
Dominic Bozzelli/Peter Uihlein-150/1
Harris English/Johnson Wagner-150/1
K.J. Choi/David Lingmerth-150/1
Jonathan Byrd/Scott Langley-150/1
Max Homa/Andrew Putnam-150/1
Roberto Diaz/Denny McCarthy-150/1
Sebastian Munoz/Carlos Ortiz-150/1
Roberto Castro/Cameron Tringale-150/1
Tyler Duncan/Adam Schenk-150/1
Tom Lovelady/Harold Varner III-150/1
Nick Lindheim/Richy Werenski-150/1
Billy Hurley III/Peter Malnati-200/1
Nate Lashley/Ted Potter Jr-200/1
J.J. Henry/Tom Hoge-200/1
Julian Etulian/Andres Romero-200/1
Chad Campbell/Freddie Jacobson-200/1
Cameron Davis/Kyle Jones-200/1
Wes Roach/Hudson Swafford-200/1
Hank Lebioda/Curtis Luck-200/1
Ernie Els/Trevor Immelman-200/1
Alex Cekja/Alex Prugh-250/1
Anders Albertson/Seth Reeves-250/1
Derek Fathauer/Chase Wright-250/1
Kenny Perry/Josh Teater-250/1
Colt Knost/Boo Weekley-250/1
David Duval/Jim Furyk-300/1
Joey Garber/Cody Gribble-300/1
Rod Pampling/John Senden-300/1
Davis Love III/Dru Love-300/1
I'm loving Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell at 20/1. Granted, part of the reason I feel so strongly about this team is their song choice—you have to love Stenson paying tribute to his fallen Swedish compatriot, Avicii. More pertinent to this conversation, though, is the simple fact that McDowell's game has rounded into form after years in the abyss. He won the opposite-field event in the Dominican Republic three weeks ago and followed it up with a T7 at the Valero Texas Open. Stenson, on the other hand, only has one top-10 on the season and it came at a match-play event. But he's still an elite ball striker, and perhaps the stress-free environment this week will kick his game into gear.