Zurich Classic of New Orleans Picks, Predictions, Odds
Our VI PGA handicapping experts have compiled their best bets for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which is set to take place on Thursday, April 21 and ends on Sunday, April 24 at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La.
First off, this is a team event, pairing two golfers together against others in a Field of 80. For this week's event, we'll keep it rather simple and just select three pairings to hoist the trophy on Sunday, as the props won't be out until later in the week, if at all.
The course at TPC Louisiana measures 7,425 yards and is a Par 72 with TifEagle Bermudagrass greens. This course layout also features over 100 bunkers, 101 to be exact, while the Peter Dye designed course also has five water hazards in play. There are a standard four Par 3s, 10 Par 4s and four Par 5s, too.
Generally we try to focus on certain areas of statistical dominance, but for this particular event, it's a good idea to go with bombers off the tee, players who excel in the Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green, a little bit of a sand save percentage prowess and those handy with the putter. Also, let's try and focus on players who have excelled in this event in prior years.
Australian's Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith won this partner event last season, and committed to returning and defending their crown. Smith seems to enjoy this format, as he also paired with Jonas Blixt in 2017 to win the inaugural event when this tournament moved from the traditional one-player format to two-man teams. Smith has had a hand in two wins in four events since 2017, with the 2020 event wiped out due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
- Marc Leishman & Cameron Smith To Win (+800)
- Ryan Palmer & Scottie Scheffler To Win (+1100)
- Christiaan Bezuidenhout & Charl Schwartzel To Win (+6600)
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MARC LEISHMAN & CAMERON SMITH (+800)
It might seem a little on the lazy side to pick the defending champions, but Smith has had a hand on the trophy in two of the past four buddy events at this particular event. He obviously likes it, and is comfortable at TPC Louisiana, and even the biggest contrarian bettor is going to think twice about picking against he and Leishman.
In addition, Smith rolls in playing good golf. Well, he did miss the cut at RBC Heritage last weekend, but he was third in The Masters at Augusta National in the previous weekend, and prior to that he hoisted the trophy at TPC Sawgrass in THE PLAYERS Championship in mid-March, usually referred to as the unofficial fifth major.
Smith also has five finishes of ninth or better so far this season, including a win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. He isn't a bomber off the tee, driving it 'just' 296.4 yards to rank 115th, but he checks in eighth on the PGA Tour in Greens In Regulation Percentage (71.01%) across 27 measured rounds. Smith also leads all golfers in Birdie Average (5.38) and Scoring Average (69.338).
Leishman isn't too shabby, either, ranking 14th in Birdie Average (4.33), while delivering drives of 305.2 yards to rank 41st, and he is 36th in GIR at 69.18%.
RYAN PALMER & SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER (+1100)
With slightly longer odds than the favorites, you get the 2022 Masters champion in Scheffler, as well as one of the members of the winning duo in the 2019 Zurich Classic in Palmer.
Palmer paired with Jon Rahm to post a 26-under 262, easing by Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood by three strokes in the event prior to the season COVID washed this event away.
Palmer hasn't been playing very good golf lately, so this pick does come with some concern. He missed the cut in his last event, The Masters, and he also missed the cut at THE PLAYERS Championship, The Genesis Invitational and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. And in the two of six events he has made the cut, he was just 48th at the Valero Texas Open, and 70th in The Honda Classic.
However, Scheffler should help to lift Palmer's game. The 25-year-old is still basking in the glory of winning a green jacket at Augusta National, one of three wins in the past five events he has entered, as he also won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Waste Management Phoenix Open. He has seven finishes of seventh or better across the past 11 events, so there isn't much to dislike about Scheffler here. It's all going his way lately, and he is strong in Driving Distance, GIR, SG: Around-the-Green, SG: Putting and SG: Total.
CHRISTIAAN BEZUIDENHOUT & CHARL SCHWARTZEL (+6600)
OK, let's get a little crazy with the third selection and look to a South African pairing long-shot pick.
Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, paired with Louis Oosthuizen last season to give Leishman & Smith a run for their money. The South Africans came up just short in a playoff, but they definitely made it interesting.
The 2011 Masters winner came out of nowhere at Augusta National, picking up a 10th-place finish after entering the major with six consecutive missed cuts. He followed that up with a 54th-place place showing at Harbour Links last week, so he's anything but a sure thing. But he'll use last season's run at TPC Louisiana to help his new South African teammate.
Bezuidenhout has made the cut in four consecutive events, including a solid 44th-place run at The Masters. He was able to post a 9-over 276 despite some crooked numbers in the final two days. He isn't a bomber off the tee, but he is rather accurate, hitting 402 of a possible 609 fairways (66.01%), good for 28th on Tour. He is also a solid sixth in sand save percentage, should be get into the kitty litter. Bezuidenhout's putting could use some improvement, but he is a respectable 42nd in SG: Around-the-Green and 44th in SG: Tee-to-Green.
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