Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
HATS off to the PGA Tour and sponsors Zurich for coming up with a whole new format for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. For one week only, we will see a two-man team format featuring foursomes (alternate shot) during the first and third rounds and fourball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds.The starting field will consist of 80 teams (160 players). Each of the top available players from the PGA TOUR Priority Rankings who commits to the tournament will choose his partner, who in turn must have PGA TOUR status unless he is chosen as a tournament sponsor exemption. It may all sound rather complicated and convoluted but it really isn’t.
It should make for a fascinating four days and there are some mouthwatering pairings ready to take on the challenge. In an ideal world, you would want a pairing that consists of a player who finds fairways with somebody who takes chances and can string lots of birdies together.
And the standout pairing just has to be Jason Day and Rickie Fowler (Navajo). Former world number one Day has had his struggles both on and off the course in 2017 but returned to action at The Masters and showed flashes of the form that took him to the top of the world rankings and helped him land his first major title, the 2015 US PGA Championship. Fowler is finally back to his best. He had a disappointing 2016 but has returned to the winners’ circle this season. Fowler is a brilliant putter, certainly one of the best in the world, and is also extremely accurate from the tee. At his best, precisely the same could be said of Day.
His mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and it affected him deeply but she recently had an operation that, by all accounts, went extremely well. It might just provide the trigger for Day to finally get his season kick-started. The absolute certainty is that this pair will record a lot of birdies over the four days, but can they keep the mistakes to a minimum?