Zurich Classic of New Orleans 2024 Tips: Jamie has five pairings for victory

 | April 23 | 

17 mins read

jamie worsley pga tour

Golf expert Jamie Worsley is back with another of his comprehensive PGA Tour previews and five more each-way picks for victory. Let's jump right in with his Zurich Classic of New Orleans Predictions.

Zurich Classic Betting Tips

  • 1.25 pts Taylor Moore & Matt NeSmith each-way (1/5 - 6 places) - 45/1 
  • 1.25 pts Davis Thompson & Andrew Novak each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 45/1
  • 1.25 pts Nick Hardy & Davis Riley each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 45/1 
  • 1 pt Justin Suh & Rico Hoey each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 90/1

An avoidable weather delay resulting in a Monday finish only put off the inevitable at Harbour Town, as Scottie Scheffler backed up his Masters success with a fourth win in five starts in the RBC Heritage.

He had an off day with the putter on Thursday that gave the field hope but the club woke up in the second round, and he didn’t look back over the weekend/Monday; his third-round 63 shooting him into a one-shot lead entering round four and firing a 3-under 68, he breezed to a three-stroke success.

Stephan Jaeger in Houston remains the only player to beat Scheffler over the course of his last 360 holes and there looks to be no stopping him with the next of the year’s majors just over three weeks away.

Now for a welcome change of pace on the PGA Tour, with the seventh edition of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event at TPC Louisiana.

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

Initially known as the New Orleans Open, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans has a long history on the PGA Tour, having first been staged in 1938. Though after introducing a new team format to the event in 2017, it is a much different competition than the one won by the likes of Gary Player (1972), Jack Nicklaus (1973) and Seve Ballesteros (1985) in the past.

The tournament now sees 80 two-man teams competing against one another in a stroke play format; playing fourballs (Better Ball) on Thursday/Saturday and foursomes (Alternate Shot) on Friday/Sunday.

Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt won the first edition of this new format in 2017, beating Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown in a playoff after they finished tied on -27 after 72 holes.

They were followed by Billy Horschel – an individual winner of the event in 2013 – and Scott Piercy in 2018, with Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer succeeding them with the most commanding victory in 2019, seeing off Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood by three strokes.

The event returned in 2021 after being absent in 2020 due to covid. Australia took on South Africa to decide the tournament, as Cameron Smith won his second Zurich Classic title when partnered with Marc Leishman, defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in a playoff after both teams finished tied on -20 – making it the highest scoring edition to date.

The last two years have been the lowest scoring since the format change. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele shot -29 to win in 2022, denying Billy Horschel a third Zurich Classic title; himself and Sam Burns instead having to settle for the runners-up spot.

Cantlay and Schauffele were replaced by Nick Hardy and Davis Riley as champions last year, recording their first tour victories with a record 30-under-par winning score; two shots too good for the Canadian duo of Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin.

Hardy and Riley are back to defend this week, facing off against a mixture of more experienced teams and those who will be looking to earn a similarly career-changing victory as the one they managed to achieve last year.

THE COURSE

TPC Louisiana – our second Pete Dye design in a row following on from Harbour Town – opened for play in 2004 and has been the exclusive home of the Zurich Classic since 2007.

This par 72 measures 7425 yards; possessing 10x par 4s (355-492 yards), 4x par 5s (548-585 yards) and 4x par 3s (207-221 yards).

It is fairly open and needs the wind to blow to pose a serious threat; with four of the final five renewals of the event before the format change won in a score of -19 or lower (two in the -20s).

The well-conditioned course is very flat throughout, with little in the way of elevation changes. Generous fairways are pretty straight, possessing few dramatic doglegs and are framed by a smattering of tall oak and cypress trees; a couple of which are strategically placed to obstruct approaches into the greens.

This kind of strategy lacks over much of the course. With rough non-penal it is left to the abundant bunkering to offer protection; from huge waste bunkers that line many fairways, to the typically Dye pot bunkers that can prove tricky to play out of.

The small and undulating putting surfaces are arguably the most difficult aspect of play around TPC Louisiana. Overseeded with poa trivialis at this time of year, these bermudagrass-based greens are a fast 12 on the stimp and can be tough to hit, littered with run-offs.

The greenside bunkers are often placed at a distance away from the green, which makes shots out of them all the more difficult and can result in players needing to chip from tightly-mown chipping areas.

Water is in-play on 8 holes and plays a major role in a trademark, exciting TPC finish.

The 16th is a potentially drivable 355-yard par 4. If wanting to lay back, players will need to navigate a large waste bunker that sits on the corner of the slightly left-to-right doglegging fairway. Take the hole on and there is water laying to the left of a thin strip of fairway and surrounding the green.

Three of the four par 3s are protected by water, including the 215-yard 17th. Water lurks to the left of the long and narrow green here; however, a bail-out can end up in one of two pot bunkers that sit right of the green, resulting in a nervy bunker shot back towards the water if found.

The course closes out with the risk/reward 585-yard par 5 18th. The hole is well bunkered from fairway to green and with a water hazard sitting to the right of the entire hole, what would be a relatively gettable par 5 in normal circumstances is fraught with danger, and will play an important role in determining which of our 80 duos walks away with the trophy this week.

THE WEATHER

Conditions are forecast to be dry and warm throughout the week. Though starting off with a gentle 8mph breeze on Thursday, the wind is scheduled to pick up significantly from that point onwards, with gusts at 30mph+ predicted over the weekend.

KEY STATS

The quirky nature of this event means we’re not blessed with a full book of data from past renewals under this format. Having said that, there are many statistical trends that have developed among the winning teams, starting with quality approach play.

  • SG: Approach
  • Greens-in-Regulation
  • Proximity from 200yds+

Looking at the season-long stats, approach play was the strongest area for each of last year’s winning twosome; Davis Riley ranked 40th in approach and Nick Hardy was 61st.

Xander Schauffele ranked 7th on tour in approach in 2022, with his teammate, Patrick Cantlay ranking 38th.

Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith in 2021 are/have been strong iron players; as were both the 2019 and 2018 winning teams, with Jon Rahm/Ryan Palmer and Billy Horschel/Scott Piercy all ranking inside the top 50 in approach in the year they won.

It comes as no surprise to see many of the players ranking high in greens hit into these small putting surfaces and it could pay to focus on those teams who excel from 200yds+, with each of the par 3s coming in over this distance and each of the par 5s requiring similarly lengthy approaches to hit in two.

  • Driving Distance

The last four renewals of this event have heavily favoured teams where both players are more about power than accuracy off-the-tee.

Nick Hardy and Davis Riley ranked 34th and 52nd respectively in driving distance last year, whilst Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in 2022 each ranked inside the top 40.

Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman are definitely two players who are longer than they are accurate and there was plenty of length on show from the 2019 winning team, with Rahm 20th in driving distance that year and Ryan Palmer 60th.

It does make sense, not only as this generous driving course should suit those longer hitters but also, it means that each player in the team will be hitting approaches from similar spots/distances that they are used to in foursomes.

  • SG: Putting (poa trivialis)
  • Scrambling

It stands to reason that you’re going to want to have teams that can do a bit of everything well combined. Going into this event with two players who can’t putt could just set yourself up for a torturous week.

Additionally, with those potentially strong winds over the weekend, plenty of these greens will be missed and players will need to demonstrate an ability to get the ball up-and-down from greenside.

  • Birdie Average

 

Finally, the fourballs element of this event is usually very low scoring and often leaves teams who don’t score especially well on these two days with too much to do in foursomes. Therefore, if you can find a partnership in which both players make tonnes of birdies you should get off to a positive start on Thursday.

CORRELATING EVENTS (COURSES)

PLAYERS Championship (TPC Sawgrass)

With Dye’s distinctive design style you won’t be shocked to find many of the leading teams at this event possessing a good bit of form at his courses between them.

I’m going to start with TPC Sawgrass. With its small, speedy poa trivialis overseeded greens; intimidating watery finish and plethora of bunkering on show, it can act as a good guide this week.

Notable correlating form:

Cameron Smith:

Zurich Classic (1st, 1st) / PLAYERS (1st)

Xander Schauffele:

Zurich Classic (1st, 4th) / PLAYERS (2nd, 2nd)

Ryan Palmer:

Zurich Classic (1st) / PLAYERS (5th)

Sergio Garcia:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / PLAYERS (1st)

Louis Oosthuizen:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / PLAYERS (2nd)

Charl Schwartzel:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / PLAYERS (2nd)

Kevin Kisner:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / PLAYERS (2nd, 4th)

Pat Perez:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / PLAYERS (3rd)

Jason Dufner:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / PLAYERS (5th, 6th)

RBC Heritage (Harbour Town Golf Links)

Whilst less open and more strategic, Harbour Town’s small poa trivialis greens and coastal location - that makes it susceptible to wind - has seen many performers go well both there and in Louisiana.

Notable correlating form:

Patrick Cantlay:

Zurich Classic (1st) / Heritage (2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd)

Scott Piercy:

Zurich Classic (1st) / Heritage (3rd)

Xander Schauffele:

Zurich Classic (1st) / Heritage (4th)

Billy Horschel:

Zurich Classic (1st) / Heritage (5th)

Kevin Kisner:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / Heritage (2nd)

Scott Brown:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / Heritage (5th)

Pat Perez:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / Heritage (6th)

The American Express (Dye Stadium Course)

Relatively open with generous fairways, strong bunkering and similarly small poa trivialis overseeded greens, the Dye Stadium Course – which hosts two of the four days in The AmEx, including the final round – has much in common with this week’s host course.

Notable correlating form:

Jon Rahm:

Zurich Classic (1st) / AmEx (1st, 1st)

Patrick Cantlay:

Zurich Classic (1st) / AmEx (2nd)

Xander Schauffele:

Zurich Classic (1st) / AmEx (3rd, 3rd)

Scott Piercy:

Zurich Classic (1st) / AmEx (6th)

Jason Dufner:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / AmEx (1st)

Adam Hadwin:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / AmEx (2nd, 2nd, 3rd)

Sam Burns:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / AmEx (6th, 6th)

Sanderson Farms Championship (Country Club of Jackson)

I’m going to finish with the Country Club of Jackson in neighbouring Mississippi, which is almost identical in par and yardages. Though the fairways are much tighter there, the lack of penalty for missing them makes it a course favoured by bombers. In addition to being flat, loosely tree-lined and lacking in the need for a strategic approach, it looks a strong comp for TPC Louisiana.

Notable correlating form:

Nick Hardy:

Zurich Classic (1st) / Sanderson Farms (5th)

Xander Schauffele:

Zurich Classic (1st) / Sanderson Farms (5th)

Nick Taylor:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / Sanderson Farms (1st)

Sam Burns:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / Sanderson Farms (1st)

Sergio Garcia:

Zurich Classic (2nd) / Sanderson Farms (1st)

THE FIELD

Rory McIlroy will be making his Zurich Classic debut this week as he teams up with good friend Shane Lowry. However they are not the highest-ranked duo in the event this week, as world #5 and #8, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay return for a fourth straight renewal after finishing 11th, 1st and 4th in the last three years.

They are one of just two former winning pairs back in action this week, along with our defending champions, Davis Riley and Nick Hardy. However, former winners, Billy Horschel and Ryan Palmer will tee it up with different partners than who they won with, with last week’s Corales Puntacana Championship winner, Horschel teaming up with Tyson Alexander and Palmer with Zach Johnson.

Brothers, Matt and Alex Fitzpatrick return for another go after finishing 19th last year. They are one of three teams of siblings, as the Hojgaard and Coody twins team up in the event for the first time.

Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin are back again, hoping to go one better than their runner-up finish last year; Will Zalatoris and Sahith Theegala represent an exciting, high-class duo; whilst Vegas residents and friends, Collin Morikawa and Kurt Kitayama make their debut as a twosome this week.

SELECTIONS

1.25 pts Taylor Moore & Matt NeSmith each-way (1/5 - 6 places) - 45/1 

Taylor Moore and Matt NeSmith have teamed up to finish 4th in the last two renewals of the Zurich Classic and I’m hoping that the quality of Moore’s recent form will drag them into going even better this year.

Having not missed a cut since July last year and finishing 2nd three starts ago in the Houston Open, there’s no denying that Moore is the current star of this team. However there are positives to be taken from some of NeSmith’s results this year, where he recorded a best of 26th in THE PLAYERS at another Dye design, TPC Sawgrass.

Moore leads the way stats-wise too, hitting the ball well this season, ranking 22nd in GIR, as well as being top 40 T2G and top 50 in proximity from 200yds+. Despite largely struggling for form, NeSmith has been finding plenty of greens, ranking 54th in GIR and he has produced two of his three best approach performances of the year over the course of his last four starts.

Their skillsets appear to blend nicely. Not only have they shot a combined 37-under-par across their four rounds of fourballs in the last two years but after first shooting +1 in the more difficult foursomes, they have gone on to shoot -13 over their last three rounds.

With both possessing some good results in Jackson and at Harbour Town, they have some attractive form in the right places and can once again go well at TPC Louisiana.

1.25 pts Davis Thompson & Andrew Novak each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 45/1

Davis Thompson and Andrew Novak are both based at the Sea Island Resort. Their two games complement each other well and coming into this week with some strong performances in recent starts, I expect them to be an able partnership this week.

Whilst former #1 amateur, Thompson has performed well this year, missing just three cuts in eleven starts and recording five top-25 finishes – the latest of which came last week in the Corales Championship – Novak’s results have been that little bit better.

After missing his first three cuts of the year, he reeled off a string of three consecutive top 10s, finishing 8th in Phoenix, 8th in Mexico and 9th at PGA National. He has continued to perform solidly since, recording a fourth top 20 of the year three starts ago in the Valspar Championship.

Their games share many similarities whilst also possessing one or two areas where the other excels a touch more, which is a good mix for this event. They’re both relatively long off the tee and have been strong in approach this year, Novak especially so, who ranks 14th in approach and 12th in proximity from 200yds+. Thompson is a prolific top-30 birdie-maker and whilst each of them have scrambled well this year, Novak is the standout in this area, ranking 30th. Between them, they cover virtually every area for this challenge.

Neither has managed to make the cut here before but with Thompson’s 2nd in the 2023 AmEx showing what he can do on Dye designs, and Novak playing better at this level than he ever has, I fancy them to improve significantly on previous results this week.

1.25 pts Nick Hardy & Davis Riley each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 45/1 

Nick Hardy and Davis Riley come into this week off the back of some of their best performances of the year over recent starts and at around the same price as last year, the defending champions look a good bet to again go well.

They have both largely struggled this year but found some of their best stuff in Texas. Davis Riley’s approach play had been starting to improve prior to his start in the Houston Open and it helped him there to a 14th-place finish, his best result of the year.

Nick Hardy, on the other hand, had been relatively solid at the start of the year, hitting the ball well without ever threatening the top of the leaderboard, but as his ball-striking started to waver, so did his results and he had missed four cuts in a row before heading to Texas. The long game was still off in Houston, but he did at least make the cut there, finishing 57th; however he then recorded a first top 25 of the year on his next start in the Texas Open, which was aided by a strong ball-striking display, ranking 13th.

Ball-striking is where both of these players are at their best and helps them make plenty of birdies, which for all he’s not played particularly well this year, Riley does rank top 50 in birdie average. In addition, these long hitters are both strong in that 200yd+ range in approach, with Hardy ranking 39th this season and Riley 51st last season.

Prior to winning last year, both players performed well in the 2022 edition with different partners, as Riley finished 4th with Will Zalatoris and Hardy finished 21st with Curtis Thompson. They then gelled brilliantly in both fourballs and foursomes last year, and entering this week in similar form to as in 2023, they have a great chance of being the first team to successfully defend the title.

1 pt Justin Suh & Rico Hoey each way (1/5 - 6 places) - 90/1

Justin Suh and Rico Hoey became friends when playing at the University of Southern California together from 2015-17. They both now find themselves on the biggest stage; with the combination of Suh’s form in this event and Hoey starting to find his feet at this level in recent weeks, they look a very appealing team at the prices.

Suh topped the Korn Ferry Tour finals points list in 2022 to make his way here last season, whereas Hoey finished 4th on the regular season points list last year to earn his first crack at the tour, and it’s the latter who is performing better so far this year.

After missing his first four cuts to start the season, Hoey has missed just one of his last six and recorded a best of 14th in the Texas Open two starts ago. Suh, meanwhile has added some length to his game this year but as yet, has failed to build on his promising rookie season in 2023, making the weekend on just three occasions in eleven starts, where he has recorded a best of 22nd in Phoenix.

However, Suh does have some good results in this event, despite entering the week in similarly poor form on his previous two visits; finishing 11th on debut in 2021 when paired with Doug Ghim and once again hit the top 25 last year, finishing 23rd alongside Sahith Theegala.

Hoey’s been hitting the ball excellently this year, ranking 9th OTT and 44th in approach, whilst Suh has been all about the putter, ranking 8th. They both make plenty of birdies, indeed Suh was top 25 in birdie average last year and as mentioned he’s also gained some length OTT in 2024, ranking 81st in driving distance compared to being outside the top 100 in previous seasons. Which makes them a relatively big-hitting duo when combined with Hoey’s 23rd in driving distance.

Suh’s 6th at TPC Sawgrass last year shows further his liking for Dye designs and is a final positive for this duo’s chances of a breakthrough victory this week.

You can find all Jamie's latest Golf Betting Tips over on our dedicated golf Insights hub.

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