PGA Tour Picks: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
OK, so we've clearly hit a lull in the PGA Tour schedule. I didn't know too much about the winner two Sundays ago at the RBC Heritage, Satoshi Kodaira. Knew not much more about this past Sunday's first-time winner on Tour, Andrew Landry, as he took home the Valero Texas Open title in San Antonio.
I did remember Landry's name from a great first round at the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont when he tamed that tough track with a 66 while ranked 624 th in the world. He earned a spot in Sunday's final pairing with Shane Lowry but tied for 15th after a final-round 78. Landry, a fabulous college player at Arkansas who lost the 2009 NCAA title match in heartbreaking fashion, also made a playoff earlier this year on the West Coast Swing at the CareerBuilder Challenge but lost to Jon Rahm on the fourth hole of sudden death. On Sunday, Landry shot a final-round 4-under 68 in the final group to win by two over Sean O'Hair and Trey Mullinax. It was the first PGA Tour win in 32 starts for Landry.
Needless to say, I didn't even consider Landry last week. He rose from No. 114 to 66th and might now get to play the U.S. Open; the top 60 in the May 21 rankings will automatically qualify for Shinnecock Hills. Mullinax, who shot a course-record 62 in the third round, went from No. 306 to No. 169 with his T2 finish in San Antonio. My winning choice was Ryan Palmer, and he missed the cut after rounds of 71-76. I missed a Top 10 on Billy Horschel by one shot.
So, let's move on to this week's PGA Tour stop, and it's lone trip of the year to Louisiana: the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana. I'll just be up front here and say this story will be a bit shorter than usual because it's just about impossible to handicap this event. That's because last year in order to lure more top players, the Zurich Classic shifted to a two-man team event. The thinking was the best players in the world would want to head to New Orleans to get a chance to play with their buddies while still getting paid. The shift largely worked, too. It's the only such event on Tour; the last team event was the Walt Disney World National Team Championship in 1981.
The highest-ranked players in the field get to pick who they want to play with; 18 of the world's Top 30 are set to play. This year, the first and third rounds will be four-ball (best ball) and the second and fourth foursomes (alternate shot). That's a reversal from last year. There are 80 teams in the field and a cut is after Round 2 per usual down to Top 35 teams and ties. But by far the best change for 2018 is the tournament is allowing golfers to have walk-up music like a batter or closer in baseball. That's stupid but awesome. It's basically just one Big Party in the Big Easy. Nothing wrong with that on a dead portion of the schedule before the Players Championship in a couple of weeks.
The defending champions are Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith. Last year's final round was delayed by storms, so they had to return Monday morning for a playoff against Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown. The two teams all finished at 27-under par -- Kisner and Scott Brown had combined for a 12-under 60 Sunday to force the playoff. Blixt and Smith won it on the fourth extra hole. They are back to defend.
Golf Odds: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Favorites
Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson are the +800 Bovada favorites and one of three teams in the field featuring both players ranked in the Top 25. They disappointed last year by shooting 72-66 and missing the cut at 6-under. Rose won this tournament when it was normal stroke play in 2015.
Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer and Bud Cauley/Justin Thomas are each +1200. The former finished fourth last year at 22 under. The latter were T5 at 19 under. Patrick Cantlay/Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar are each +1400.
Reed plays for the first time since winning the Masters - and then seemingly wearing his green jacket everywhere in public (hey, I probably would too). The duo was T14 last year at 17 under. Watson played with JB Holmes in 2017 and they finished T5. Watson won this tournament in 2011. Kuchar didn't play here last year.
Golf Odds: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Picks
I'm pretty much throwing darts at a board here. Sure, you like to look at guys who have played this event several times and know the course, but everything is also predicated on your partner. As of now, Bovada is only offering some matchups. Go Spieth/Palmer (-115) over Watson/Kuchar (-115), Rafa Cabrera-Bello/Sergio Garcia (-115) over Jon Rahm/Wesley Bryan (-115), and Holmes/Brandt Snedeker (-115) over Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland (-115).
The winning pick is Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Paisley at +3000. Both are playing great in Europe this year and know each other's games well.
Enjoy the walk-up music!
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