If they get anywhere close to recreating their Presidents Cup form, Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen are going to be difficult to beat in this week’s PGA Tour event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Source : Sunshine Tour
That’s because the tournament is making a change to a new format in an attempt to regenerate interest in it: Tournament organisers and the PGA Tour are introducing a two-man team format for the event. The field consists of 160 golfers for the stroke-play competition, made up of teams of two players. The first and third rounds will be foursomes, while the second and final rounds will be four-ball. There will be a cut to the top 35 teams and ties at the halfway stage.
In the last Presidents Cup in 2015, Grace and Oosthuizen were better than all the US team could throw at them in those formats, defeating Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed, and Reed and Rickie Fowler in foursomes matches, and dusting down Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth, and JB Holmes and Bubba Watson in four-ball matches.
They’re up against some powerful looking pairings. Perhaps the most threatening is the Henrik Stenson-Justin Rose combination, although Stenson is not at his imperious best at the moment. In a team set-up, however, he can be carried by the form of Rose, who came so close at the Masters.
The Jordan Spieth-Ryan Palmer duo also looks as if it will be seriously impressive. As the PGA Tour’s Rob Bolton puts it, “Spieth’s knack for scoring can pay off Palmer’s propensity to get hot off the tee. Perfect blend.”
Other hot pairings include Jason Day and Rickie Fowler, the in-form Kevin Chappell and Gary Woodland, and the Japanese duo of Hideki Matsuyama and Hideto Tanihara.
For all of the players, it’s going to be a matter of changing their normal approach, and perhaps the experience the Oosthuizen and Grace already have under their belts from the Presidents Cup makes them marginal favourites.