Zurich Classic unveils new team format
Los Angeles (AFP) – The US PGA Tour takes an intriguing twist this week as the Zurich Classic of New Orleans unveils its new two-man team format.
Eighty teams, a total of 160 players, will tee it up, with the top-ranked committed players choosing their playing partners from among those who have full PGA Tour status or a sponsor’s exemption.
The teams include such star duos as Australian Jason Day and American Rickie Fowler — the last two winners of the US PGA Tour’s Players Championship — and the Olympic gold and silver medalists Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
“I’ve loved being a part of team events throughout my amateur, collegiate and now professional career,” Rickie Fowler said. “I’m so excited that the Tour and Zurich are making this part of our schedule and can’t wait to tee it up.”
The event also offers a possible foreshadowing of the Presidents Cup in the team of South Africans Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen and the Japanese duo of Hideki Matsuyama and Hideto Tanihara.
In the last Presidents Cup pitting US stars against the International team in 2015, Grace and Oosthuizen were better than all the US team could throw at them in the foursomes and four-ball formats that will be used this week at TPC Louisiana.
Rose and Stenson have an impressive Ryder Cup track record together. They won all three matches they played together in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
Rose is also a proven winner in Louisiana, where he lifted the title as an individual in 2015.
Rose called the team format “incredibly exciting”.
“Henrik and I are very excited to tee it up together and hopefully we can continue our longstanding chemistry and success in team formats.”
The tournament will mark the first time since 1981 that a regular US PGA Tour event will feature players competing in teams.
Thursday and Saturday will feature alternate shot matches and Friday and Sunday will feature a best ball format.
FedEx Cup points toward the US tour’s playoffs and prizemoney are up for grabs and will be split between teammates.