One of the most unique events of the season returns this week with the Zurich Classic team event. After being canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, this event returns for the second season in a row and a mid-April date. The field consists of 160 players (80 two-man teams), and this year will mark the fifth year the event has been contested in the team format. With 80 teams in the field, the cut will still take place after Friday — the top 33 teams (plus ties) make the weekend. In 2019, 37 teams made the weekend.
The format will lend itself to lots of volatility since Thursday and Saturday will have teams competing in best-ball format. In best ball, each player will play their own ball for the entire hole and the best score will be taken on each hole.
Friday and Sunday will have teams competing in alternate shot format, which is where teams play one ball per hole, alternating turns. As you can guess, the scores on best ball tend to be quite a bit lower than in alternate shot. The defending champions of this event are Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, and it’s worth noting Smith has won this event twice with different partners (he won in 2018 with Jonas Blixt). Leishman and Smith are in the field again and joined by the likes of Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay, Collin Morikawa/Viktor Hovland and Ryan Palmer/Scottie Scheffler.
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TPC Louisiana — Avondale, Louisiana
Par 72 -7,300-7400 yards depending on setup
TPC Louisiana is a Pete Dye-designed course that carries a mixed bag of hole designs but does allow for some really low scoring if the weather cooperates. In 2015 — one of the final years it was a regular stroke-play event — Justin Rose ended up winning with a final score of -22, and most winning scores here were in the high teens or better during stroke play.
One of the main reasons the scoring is so low here is the par 5s all rate as extremely great birdie opportunities. Only the par-5 18th hole comes in at over 580 yards in length. For most players, at least three of these longer holes are reachable in two shots. There are also some extremely short par 4s on TPC Louisiana, with four of the par 4s coming in at under 400 yards — including the drive-able 16th, which could play a role down the stretch.
While the course does have some water and quite a few bunkers on it, accuracy isn’t a huge factor due to the lack of rough and larger fairways. Driving Accuracy stats here are generally higher than the PGA TOUR average, as are GIR%s since the Bermuda greens are typically easier to hold and don’t play extra firm. Putting stats are also slightly elevated, and the last four winners of this event — before it turned into a team event — all gained +4.2 strokes or more putting for the week. This venue typically sees a larger than average number of birdie putts holed from 20 feet and in, per Fantasy National.
Good putters — like Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt — have dominated at this event up to this point, and you should give extra weight to teams here who you think can have monster weeks on the greens.
2022 Weather outlook: Weather at this event can often be a factor, and it was shortened to 54 holes back in 2016 due to extensive rain and thunderstorms. This year, though, the forecast looks very accommodating with highs in the low- to mid-80s all week with no sign of rain or precipitation. There is some wind expected, though, and TPC Louisiana does play open in several spots. Gusts approaching 20 mph could be on tap for Friday afternoon, which looks slightly windier than Thursday as of writing. The difference between the two days is not significant right now but something to keep an eye as we approach lock on Wednesday in case more of a wave split develops.
Last Five winners
2021—Cameron Smith/Marc Leishman -20 (Over Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel playoff)
2019—Jon Rahm/Ryan Palmer 26-under (over Sergio Garcia/Tommy Fleetwood -21)
2018—Billy Horschel/Scott Piercy 22-under (over Jason Dufner/Pat Perez -21)
2017—Cameron Smith/Jonas Blixt 27-under (over Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown playoff)
2016—Brian Stuard—2016 (non-team)
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown ($7,600): Kisner and Brown have played in this event together in each of the four years it’s been a team event. The veteran duo lost in a playoff here in the first year (2017) and finished T5 here in 2019. Brown hasn’t played much this year, so they’re much higher in betting odds (+10000 on the DraftKings Sportsbook) than they have been in previous years. They offer good upside appeal in daily fantasy.
2. Cameron Smith/Marc Leishman ($10,200): There’s no one who has had more success at this event than Smith, who picked up the first PGA TOUR win of his career while playing with Jonas Blixt, at TPC Louisiana in 2017. These two grabbed the win at this event last season, and Smith has now vaulted his way up to a top-five player in the world rankings after winning twice in the first four months of 2022. The two will likely be a force again this week and sit at +1000 on DraftKings Sportsbook.
3. Billy Horschel/Sam Burns ($10,000): Horschel is carrying this group in terms of experience since the veteran won at TPC Louisiana (the first of his career) back in 2013 when it was a regular stroke-play event. He also won the team event here in 2018 with Scott Piercy. Burns has played here each of the past three years, though, and grabbed a T4 finish here with Horschel last season. Now in their second year playing together, they carry some of the best course history in the field.
1. Scottie Scheffler ($9,700; win-T55-win): He literally needs no introduction at this point. Scheffler is an assassin, picking off trophies on a near weekly basis. He won the Match Play event last month and gets an experienced partner in Ryan Palmer to play with this week.
2. Harold Varner III ($9,000; T3-T26): Varner was T6 at THE PLAYERS, T23 at the Masters (a personal best) and held the 54-hole lead last week before finishing T3. He’s playing great golf and looks ready to breakthrough soon.
3. Shane Lowry ($9,500; T3-T3): Lowry faltered down the stretch last week, when it looked like he might win going away at one point. Still, he has been in great form this spring and pairs with the match-play GOAT Ian Poulter. He’ll be looking for quick redemption this week.
4. Tommy Fleetwood ($9,400; T10-T14): Fleetwood put in a strong finish to grab a T10 finish at the RBC Heritage last week. He’s quietly putting together some great form and has finished top 25 in five straight starts. Paired with match-play expert Sergio Garcia, Fleetwood will go looking for his first PGA TOUR title this week.
5. Adam Hadwin ($8,000; T26-T4): Hadwin cooled off a bit last week, managing just a T26. He still has top-10 finishes in three of his last four starts, though, and will pair with fellow Canadian Adam Svensson, who has shown some serious upside in 2022, as well.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Burns/Horschel solid duo to build around
Sam Burns ($10,000) may have missed the cut at the Masters, but he’s proven time and time again he’s one of the best young talents in the game. Both he and Horschel have featured plenty on Sunday leaderboards to start 2022, and they posted a T4 finish at this event last season. Using these two also saves you money to go more balanced and target a group like Chris Kirk/Brendon Todd ($8,200). Kirk has a great course history at TPC Louisiana, and the veteran duo finished T27 at this event last season. Other potential cash targets include Keith Mitchell/Brandt Snedeker ($7,900) and Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown ($7,600).
Tournaments: Riley/Zalatoris young team with upside
Two of the best young talents in the game are hooking up this week in Davis Riley and Will Zalatoris ($8,900). Both men have already lost in a playoff this year and will be looking to make amends this week. They have a higher bust factor given Zalatoris’ putting issues, but their form and price make them perfect for bigger-field GPPs, where all we care about is upside. It’s a similar story with Byeong Hun An and Sungjae Im ($8,700), who are both super-talented players and have shown great form in 2022. An recently won on the Korn Ferry Tour and would love to grab a win this week and revitalize his PGA TOUR career. Other potential GPP targets include Bubba Watson/Harold Varner III (see below - $9,000), Joel Dahmen/Stephan Jaeger ($7,300), Austin Smotherman/Harry Higgs ($7,100) and Scott Piercy/Sean O’Hair ($6,900).
MY PICK: Harold Varner III/Bubba Watson ($9,000)
How teams will gel this week will undoubtedly have a big impact on performance, but you have to like the chances of Varner/Watson starting things off on the right foot. Both have played this team event numerous times and seem drawn to the format. Watson has had a ton of success at TPC Louisiana, winning here in 2011 and has posted T8 (Scheffler) and T5 (J.B. Holmes) with two entirely different partners.
While Watson’s T39 at the Masters doesn't jump off the page, he was in contention in a couple of early season events and is playing with a partner who grabbed a win in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. Varner’s early season confidence has carried over onto the PGA TOUR this spring, and he recently posted a career best T23 at the Masters and T6 at THE PLAYERS. Seeing him gel quickly with Watson wouldn't be shocking, especially considering Bubba has had success with two wildly different partners already. They have tons of upside appeal for fantasy golf purposes and look like a solid bet at +2500 on DraftKings Sportsbook, as well.
MY SLEEPER: Joel Dahmen/Stephan Jaeger ($7,300)
With the winners of this event often coming in at -25 or better, you need players who aren’t afraid to go low. Jaeger has had a poor time finding consistency on the PGA TOUR, but the six-time Korn Ferry Tour winner is no stranger to low rounds. Jaeger famously shot a 58 in competition back in 2016 and did finish T22 at this event in 2019, shooting an opening round 62 with then partner J.T. Poston.
Dahmen is no stranger to this event either and landed a T18 at TPC Louisiana in 2019. As a winner at Corales in 2020, he brings in more reliability to the group and is also showing some confidence right now, having landed a T6 at Pebble Beach in February and a T12 last week at Hilton Head. If his renewed form can rub off on Jaeger, this group has the ability to go low and get in the running. They’re a nice upside target for big fields this week at just over $7K.
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