Zurich Classic Gumbo Format Promises 4th Round Excitement

Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Blixt and Smith led the Zurich Classic by 4 at the end of 54 holes but that’s not enough to avoid a Sunday Shootout in New Orleans.

The Zurich Classic host city, New Orleans, is known for its Gumbo amongst other things, and the the 2017 Zurich Classic format is definitely a different prof golf recipe as well as a refreshing change-up from the steady diet of PGA TOUR stroke play events.

The team of Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith holds the 54 hole lead by 4 shots as they stand at 19-under par going into the final round. The Swedish-Australian pair shot 4 under 68 on yet another difficult, windy Saturday playing the testy alternate shot format.

Blixt and Smith appeared in complete comfort and control as they alternated rather seamlessly around the 7500 yard TPC Louisiana layout Saturday while every other pair in contention, with the exception of Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown, looked as rattled as two 12 handicappers in contention to win the 4th flight at the annual Member-Guest.

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Wild shots and a slew of missed short putts seemed to plague the majority of the field throughout the 3rd round, with the exceptions being Blixt-Smith and Kisner-Brown who actually posted -5 67 to end the day in 2nd place at 15 under. There are a lot of Sundays on Tour that a 4 shot lead would be considered safe and thus a drama free trajectory to the weekly coronation.

That’s the genius of the new structure of the Zurich. Blixt and Smith have played a great tournament so far, but unless the Zurich is somehow shortened from 72 to 54 holes they have won exactly nothing yet.

Fact is, to win a partnership tournament at any level of competitive golf takes two components unless you’re a scratch golfer who is sandbagging the 5th flight. To win a partnership both players have to play well and as a team you must have some luck.

Blixt and Smith are world class players who have both played solid this week. They could both play great on Sunday but if they don’t partner well there are still 4 or 5 teams that conceivably pass them. For example they both could shoot what would be about 68 on their own ball. Let’s say they only get 67 out of it. Every single team in this tournament is capable of shooting 62 or better at any given time if they were to get it going and partner well. That’s why the Zurich is now such an interesting and exciting event.

The Sunday format of best ball should spice up the pot of simmering golf gumbo up and down the Zurich Classic leaderboard and it goes without saying in the “Big Easy” anything can happen.

Next: Zurich Classic New and Familiar Faces

CBS has final round coverage starting at 2pm central but it will be tape delayed as Tee times have all been shifted to early morning in an attempt to get ahead of anticipated bad weather. The Zurich aimed to be a different type of event. Tune in Sunday to see why. all