One of the more unique events on the PGA Tour calendar goes off this week with the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana on the outskirts of New Orleans. This event switched to team play in 2016 as a way to try and increase interest and participation between the majors. With the PGA Championship coming quickly, a decent field is on hand this week and there are some dream teams that you can consider in your handicapping.
With the format of this event, we won’t have a DFS article this week. The cut line is 35 teams plus ties for this tournament. The field features 80 teams and 160 players. Winners get 400 FedEx Cup points each, but this tournament does not apply for Masters invitations or OWGR points.
Team odds are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and below the comment box for mobile viewers as we head down to Avondale, Louisiana for a look at the only team event of the PGA Tour year.
Format and Course
TPC Louisiana winds through the wetlands down near the Bayou and is a long par 72 of over 7,400 yards. As you would expect, a lot of holes have water in play, but this has traditionally been one of the better courses for scoring of all the tracks on the PGA Tour docket. Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy won this last year at 22-under. Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith won in 2017 at 27-under. The lowest winning score with the old format dating back to 2010 was 15-under.
There are a lot of hazards on this course with bunkers and water, but this course has a lot of reachable par 5s and even a few drivable par 4s depending on wind and ground conditions. You can play aggressively on a lot of these holes, which is why there have been so many low scores.
Players will play fourball (better ball) for the first and third rounds and alternate shots for the second and fourth rounds.
While golf’s absolute best aren’t on hand this week, who wouldn’t want to watch a pairing of Jason Day and Adam Scott or major winners Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. Day and Scott are the favorites at +600, with Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood close by at +750.
Patrick Reed will play with Patrick Cantlay and that Patrick tandem is +1200. Bubba Watson and JB Holmes can both hit it a country mile and there are +1600, along with Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer.
Guys like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, and Jordan Spieth are sitting this one out.
From a handicapping standpoint, you definitely want guys that can balance each other out, especially during the alternate shot rounds. When it comes to the fourball rounds, you know that the bombers will play their tee shots more frequently, so you really want to find a team that has good balance between a bomber and touch on the approach. The bombers can make up the length in the alternate rounds that their teammates may not have off of the tee.
Personalities matter a lot in this as well. Garcia and Fleetwood could be something of a powder keg, whereas Brooks Koepka and younger brother Chase Koepka should get along just fine. Henrik Stenson and Graeme McDowell are both veterans that know the ebbs and flows of this game.
There are also areas in which one player is just so much better than another. For example, Tony Finau badly outshines Kyle Stanley in every way possible. Stanley isn’t even in the top 200 in strokes gained putting to help on the greens. Because Finau is there, the odds are 20/1, but Stanley has the chance to really drag him down.
We’re getting a great price and some good value on Cameron Champ and Sam Burns at 70/1. Champ heads into this event 11th in strokes gained off-the-tee. The guys may struggle a little bit on approach, but Burns is top 25 in strokes gained putting. Champ is 31st. This type of event is all about birdies and eagles, so you really want guys capable of knocking down their putts. That is essential. Neither Champ nor Burns played this event last year, but they should pair well together.
Jason Dufner has played very well here with his partners. In 2017 he played with Patton Kizzire and finished tied for fifth. Dufner is back with 2018 partner Pat Perez, with whom he finished second last year. Perez is second in strokes gained putting this year. They don’t rate that well collectively in other areas, but Dufner’s been around the leaderboard the two years that we’ve had this tournament format. They are 50/1.
Kizzire is actually with Brian Harman this time around. Kizzire is 195th in strokes gained off-the-tee. Harman is 54th. Harman is nearly at the bottom in strokes gained on approach. Kizzire is in the middle of the pack. Kizzire is also 10th in strokes gained putting, which is much better than Harman’s 88th. Kizzire balances out a lot of areas where Harman struggles and vice versa, so that’s a good pairing at 66/1.
Another team with a good shot in the 60/1 range is Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax. Mullinax was among the final groups last weekend at Harbour Town. He hits the ball a long way and ranks 38th in SG: OTT. He’s 50th in SG: Approach, but Stallings is 29th. When both guys can hit a good second shot, that is an enormous benefit, especially for putting purposes with the fourball rounds. Neither Mullinax nor Stallings grade well in putting, but playing the better approach shot can make it a lot easier.
This is a fun tournament, so have some fun with it from a betting standpoint as well.