The memories of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans being an individual stroke play tournament on the PGA Tour are fading more and more by the year.
This event at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana, is in its sixth edition as a two-man team tournament. This format began in 2017. There was no tournament in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The 80 teams in the field vie to make the cut of top 33 and ties. The format alternates between fourball stroke play in the first and third rounds and alternate shot stroke play in the second and fourth.
TPC Louisiana is a Pete Dye course measuring 7,425 yards for a par 72. It’s located about 15 miles southwest of New Orleans.
The course features Bermuda grass from tee to green with greens overseeded with poa trivialis and velvet bentgrass.
Good long iron players can stand out at the Zurich Classic.
The four par-5s are reachable and the par-3s are all 200-plus yards.
Players who play well in the Florida swing or in other southeastern U.S. events with Bermuda may have success around here.
This is typically a rainy time of the year in Louisiana and weather delays are not uncommon here. The course is generally soft and greens not overly challenging.
Low scores are out there.
There’s a better field than perhaps expected this week. Based on last week’s world ranking, there are four top-10 and nine top-25 players.
Weather is often a factor at this event. This can be a rainy time of the year in this part of the U.S. The wet stuff is projected to fall Friday and Saturday. Aside from some humidity, it should be pretty comfortable out there with temperatures topping out in the high 70s Fahrenheit.
This can be one of the tougher weeks to prognosticate given the rarity of this style event, as well as the limited data to work with.
There’s a lot of turnover year to year for teams, so it’s a bit of a crap shoot to know who will mesh well.
With that said, I’ve done my best to sort through the field list and identify the 10 teams with the best chance to win the trophy, title belts, and a share of over a million bucks.
Taylor Moore and Matthew NeSmith were one of the surprises of the 2022 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The unheralded duo overcame a 73 in alternate shot in round two to finish T-4th at 23-under. They posted 60-64 in best ball and had one of the best rounds in Sunday’s alternate shot with 68.
"“We’ve been friends for a long time, like Matt said. Played a ton of golf together, junior golf, amateur golf, every rank of this game,” Moore was transcribed by ASAP Sports in 2022. “Yeah, a ton of fun to get paired together this week and finally play together again.”"
NeSmith appears to have found the right pairing at this event. He and Chase Seiffert missed the cut at the 2021 Zurich.
He’s hoping the comfy pairing with Moore can pay dividends and get him back to his form from the fall. NeSmith was on fire starting with a T-9th at the Sanderson Farms Championship, T-2nd at the Shriners Children’s Open, and T-9th at the Zozo Championship in consecutive weeks.
The 29-year-old South Carolinian hasn’t had a top-10 since as he pursues his first PGA Tour victory.
Moore is in sharper form.
The 29-year-old Oklahoman just finished T-11th at last week’s RBC Heritage. A few weeks prior, he watched as others crumbled around him to finish atop the leaderboard at the Valspar Championship.
Moore owns eight top-25s this season as part of a career year. He ranks 11th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained per round putting (.628).
NeSmith’s strength is ball striking, so the two could ham-and-egg it pretty well this week at TPC Louisiana.