Will it be third-time lucky for Horschel and Burns at the 2023 Zurich Classic of New Orleans?
Following the first major of 2023 and the eighth elevated event of the season already, the PGA Tour changes things up with the return of the popular team event, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
The change of pace event held at the Pete Dye designed TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Louisiana, features 80 two-man teams vying for the iconic championship belts, a three million dollar top prize, and 400 FedEx Cup points each.
TPC Louisiana has been the home of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans since 2007 and it has hosted the team competition since 2017 when the format was first introduced following over 70 years of stroke play competition. The course is a Par 72, 7,400-yard layout, that features over 100 bunkers throughout and all of the usual quirks that a Pete Dye design delivers.
Many of the world’s top-ranked players have elected to take this week off following a busy run of big events over the past couple of months, but there are still several top players who have opted to partner up with a teammate and tee it up in The Pelican State.
Defending Zurich Classic champions, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, are back to defend their title after the duo led to wire-to-wire at last year’s Zurich Classic on their way to breaking the tournament scoring record.
In total, nine of the world’s top 20 ranked players are set to tee it up in Louisiana this week. The 80 teams in the field at this year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans will play Four-Ball (Best Ball) on Thursday and Foursomes (Alternate Shot) on Friday before the top 33 teams and ties after the cut advance to the weekend.
The remaining 33 will once again play Four-Ball (Best Ball) on Saturday before a final session of Foursomes (Alternate Shot) on Sunday.
As you might expect following such a dominant showing en route to last year’s title, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay are significant favorites to repeat the feat in 2023. Here is a look at some of the other top favorites this week heading into the 2023 Zurich Classic.
2023 Zurich Classic of New Orleans Favorites
Note: Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change. For more betting content and picks check out Betsided.
- Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay (+300)
- Collin Morikawa/Max Homa (+900)
- Sungjae Im/Keith Mitchell (+1200)
- Si Woo Kim/Tom Kim (+1400)
- Sam Burns/Billy Horschel (+1400)
- Justin Suh/Sahith Theegala (+2000)
- Taylor Montgomery/Kurt Kitayama (+2200)
- Beau Hossler/Wyndham Clark (+2500)
Want your voice heard? Join the Pro Golf Now team!
Pick to Top 20: Ben Griffin/Ryan Gerard (+200)
Two University of North Carolina alum will be joining forces at this year’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
For Ryan Gerard, it will be his first start since receiving special temporary PGA Tour membership. The 23-year-old has impressed thus far in his limited starts to date making four out of five PGA Tour cuts with finishes of T4 at the Honda Classic in February and T11 at the Puerto Rico Open in March.
Griffin has made nine of eleven cuts on the PGA Tour this year with three top-25 finishes including a T12 result at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. Both players have shown an ability to make birdies in bunches, an element that will be crucial this week, especially during the Four-Ball sessions.
Gerard fired a second-round 63 at the Honda Classic. Meanwhile, Griffin ranks first on tour in total birdies made and 27th in birdie average this season.
Pick to Win: Sam Burns/Billy Horschel (+1400)
This will be the third consecutive year that Burns and Horschel have partnered up at the Zurich Classic. In 2021 they recorded rounds of 63-73-65-69 on their way to an eventual T4 finish at TPC Louisiana.
Last year, the duo finished runner-up to Schauffele and Cantlay and just two shots off the pace when all was said and done. Will it be third-time lucky for Burns/Horschel this time around?
Horschel certainly hasn’t had the best season thus far, the University of Florida alum has missed the cut in three of his last four starts but he did finish T9 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at the end of March after famously knocking out Jon Rahm in group play.
Perhaps the change of format and a return trip to a familiar venue will spark Horschel’s season. Billy should be able to help out on TPC Louisiana’s Par 3s this week as he ranks 2nd in Par 3 birdie or better percentage on tour this season. He is also always dangerous with the putter and ranks 27th on tour in average distance of putts made this season.
In contrast to his teammate, Burns is having a fantastic season. The LSU alum won the aforementioned WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and has recorded an additional two top 6 finishes in 2023. He is coming off a T15 result at the RBC Heritage last week.
The five-time PGA Tour winner is a terrific putter in his own right, he ranks 5th in strokes gained putting this season. Burns also ranks 19th on tour in birdie average so far this season.
This is a dangerous team in this format and after coming up just short over the past two years, I like their chances of finally getting over the line this time around.