Zurich Classic, TPC Louisiana
The PGA Tour will move to Avondale, Louisiana, for the Zurich Classic, a tournament that has become one of the most interesting ones to watch since adopting the unique two-man team format. TPC Louisiana is a Pete Dye course and has some of the classic characteristics associated with his design.
The entire course is set along the Mississippi River delta and makes excellent use of water, throughout. There are 5 ponds which will be in play at different parts of the course. Water is a particularly important facet of the 18th hole which almost always makes for an interesting finish.
The fairways are narrow and lined by cypress and oak trees in many locations. There are also over a hundred bunkers on the course making accuracy off the tee and getting in good positions to attack the hole important.
The greens are of average size but do feature some undulations which make putting a challenge.
The format for this tournament is pretty unique. The starting field will consist of 160 players in 80 teams of two each. The players pick their own teams so The Wolf assumes things could get a little awkward! The first and third rounds are going to be played Foursomes (alternate shot) while the second and fourth round will be Four-Ball (better ball).
The top-35 teams and ties will make the cut after two rounds.
This format was played for the first time last year and it turned out to be immensely popular among the spectators, possibly because it speaks to the fans of Ryder Cup-type tournaments as well as traditional gold enthusiasts.
Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt won the tournament in the inaugural year of this format.
To win this tournament, players will need to be very accurate and attack the makeable Par-4’s on the course. Teams will want to have one player that is long off the tee and one player that is good with the wedges and iron play. Putting is something that is pretty variable from week to week but the winners will definitely have had a good putting week.
Stats that Matter
The Wolf will be looking at the following stats for this week:
- Ball Striking
- Birdie Average
- Strokes Gained: Putting
This course is all about scoring and the Wolf’s choice of stats to help pick some winners this week reflects that. Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt were -27 for the week last year when they won.
A similar winning score is expected this year as well.
Picking teams makes the hazardous job of predicting even more difficult but the Wolf has narrowed down some good candidates. For the favorites this week, the Wolf likes the pair of Justin Thomas and Bud Cauley at $11.00.
Justin Thomas is one of the best golfers in the world right now and is brilliant off the tee. Bud Cauley has been in some pretty solid form of late. He finished T14 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and T18 at the Houston Open. A T23 at the RBC Heritage is not bad either considering the difficulty of the course. Both the players have some excellent complimentary skills that the Wolf thinks should make for a good team.
This combination also has the highest combined score for all the stat categories being looked at by the Wolf this week.
For the value pick, the Wolf likes Daniel Berger and Gary Woodland at $26.00. There is plenty of Ball Striking power in this team as both Berger and Woodland are very solid off the tee. Both of them can also keep the accuracy up without being too conservative and that is something that should hold them in good stead.
Both players are bringing some solid form with them to the table as well. Berger finished T18 at the Houston Open, T32 at the Masters, and recorded a T14 at the WGC Mexico not too far back as well.
This team needs to get on a scoring roll early because they can be very difficult to stop once they get ahead early.
For the long shot, the Wolf likes Emiliano Grillo and Peter Uihlein at $51.00. Emiliano Grillo has been in excellent form of late with a T3 at the Houston Open, T16 at the RBC Heritage and a T8 at the Honda Classic a bit further back.
There is something about Grillo that brings the best out of him in a tough field. Both Grillo and Uihlein are good ball strikers and aggressive scorers but do not have a solid record putting off late. That will be one of the things that could hold them back and for which punters will get such solid returns.
The price being offered for the pair makes it worth the risk in the Wolf’s opinion.
72 Hole Match Bets