In 2017 the tournament will be played under a two man team’s stroke-play arrangement with 80 teams involved.
While still retaining a 72 hole stroke-play format, the teams will play alternate shot foursomes on days one and three and four-ball on days two and four. In that respect the event is very similar to the format used for the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne in November.
Given the variables of the combinations involved in teams events, the likely winning team is perhaps even harder to pick than a winner of a typical PGA tour tournament although the decision for the event to change direction has ensured a strong field.
Six of the world’s top tens are in the line-up, the strongest combinations in terms of world ranking evenly divided between those of Jason Day and Rickie Fowler and the European pairing of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson who finished as the golf and silver medallists at last year’s Olympic Games.
Jason Day has been inside the top five at the Zurich Classic in his past two starts while Fowler has a best of 10th in six starts at the TPC Louisiana.
Rose has won over this layout previously while Stenson gets to play this venue for the very first time this week. Rose is of course in outstanding form at present his runner-up finish at the Masters an indication of just that. Stenson is not playing well at present but he could combine well with the Englishman.
Jordan Spieth brings further credibility to the field when he tees it up with his fellow Texan, Ryan Palmer and, from Japan, Hideki Matsuyama will combine with Japan’s third highest world ranked player Hideto Tanihara.
The combination of Patton Kizzire and Jason Dufner might be one for longer odds. Dufner is a previous winner of the Zurich Classic over this layout and has several other good finishes here.
Kizzire is not playing particularly well this season but many recognise him as a potential future star following a brilliant Web.Com career and Dufner, while not contending often of late, has been putting together a lot of solid tournaments over recent months.
Australians in the field are Day who, as mentioned, plays with Rickie Fowler, Cameron Smith teams with Jonas Blixt, Matt Jones and Ricky Barnes join forces, Geoff Ogilvy will partner Ian Poulter, Cameron Percy and Grayson Murray get their chance, tournament invite Ryan Ruffels will line-up with Kyle Stanley, good friends Steve Bowditch and Boo Weekley will pair up and Rod Pampling was to be paired with John Senden but Senden has withdrawn and Pampling’s partner is as yet unknown if indeed he does play.
The new format will be keenly watched by many who will be interested in just how a departure from the norm will play out.
It is perhaps a gamble by those involved in running the Zurich Classic and indeed the PGA Tour.
The players have certainly given it their thumbs up and hopefully by week’s end the golfing world will also.
The Web.Com Tour event this week is Mexico where the El Bosque Mexico Championship is being played at the El Bosque CC in Leon, Guanajuato,
Australians teeing it up there are Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby, Peter Lonard, Steve Allan, Rhein Gibson, Mark Hensby and Jamie Arnold
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