Zurich Classic of New Orleans
In alternate-shot action at the Zurich Classic, World No. 78 and past champion Billy Horschel and World No. 131 Scott Piercy painted a bogey-free, 5-under-par 33-34=67 on Sunday at TPC Louisiana to reach 22-under 266, good for the low round of the day and a one-shot win over playing competitors Jason Dufner and Pat Perez, who shot 68.
For the second time since the tournament’s beginning in 1938, the Zurich Classic was played as a team event featuring 80, 2-man teams playing two rounds of Four-Ball (best ball) and two rounds of Foursomes (alternate shot).
Tournament officials flip-flopped the rotation from last year’s inaugural (team) edition, playing best ball in Rounds 1 and 3 and alternate shot in Rounds 2 and 4.
The 36-hole cut is the low 35 teams and ties. A total of 36 teams made the cut of 5-under 139.
The Zurich awards FedExCup (FEC) points and official money – and counts as an official victory for members of the winning team. However, for a second consecutive year, no Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points were distributed.
This was Piercy's tourney debut in the team format, while Horschel missed the cut last year paired with fellow Florida Gator alum Matt Every.
Piercy, 39, records his fourth TOUR title in 251 events, first since the opposite-field 2015 Barbasol 2 years, 9 months and 66 starts ago.
Horschel, 31, claims his fifth TOUR title in 191 events (190 pro), first since the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson 25 starts and three weeks shy of a year ago.
Horschel, a Zurich Ambassador since 2013, also registers a second win at TPC Louisiana, having bagged his maiden TOUR title here in 2013.
Both players were already exempt into THE PLAYERS in two weeks but add invites to the 2018 PGA Championship and the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions. They also earn two-year exemptions on TOUR (thru 2019-20).
This was a big win for the duo – who won as pre-tourney 40/1 outrights – probably more-so for Piercy. This was his first top-3 finish since T3 at the Safeway in October, 2016, 80 weeks ago.
Final Leaderboard (pre-tourney odds outright):
FUN FACT #1: Inclusive of Utahans Tony Finau and Daniel Summerhays, who finished solo 6th, five of the top-6 teams were either 40 or 50/1 pre-tourney outrights. Also, Finau/Summerhays were the top-finishers of 19 returning teams from last year. Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay were next best in this category with T7.
Horschel/Piercy Scoring by Round:
R1: 65 (7 birdies, NO bogeys); best ball
R2: 73 (5 birdies, 2 bogeys, 2 doubles); alternate shot
R3: 61 (11 birdies, NO bogeys); best ball
R4: 67 (5 birdies, NO bogeys); alternate shot
16 of the 80 teams had multiple bogey-free rounds. Horschel/Piercy were the only team with three.
FUN FACT #2: Horschel/Piercy struggled to even make the cut, ending one inside the cut line after two bogeys and two doubles on Day 2. They then played the weekend in bogey-free 16-under (16 birdies, NO bogeys). Their 61 on Saturday was tied for the low round of the day and their 67 on Sunday was the low round.
Position by Round:
R1: T21 (of 80)
R2: T25 (of 36)*
Interestingly, the eventual top-3 teams were all T25 at the midpoint.
Playing out of the third-to-last group, they circled five birdies at holes 1, 2, 7, 10 and 11, all from inside of six feet. Horschel was the clutch performer, particularly on the greens where he drained four par-savers from between seven and 11 feet at 3, 4, 12 and 17.
FUN FACT #3: Horschel, historically a prolific ball-striker, recently changed his putter length back to 33.5 inches, the same length he used when winning back-to-back FEC Playoffs events (BMW and TOUR Championships) and the FEC title in 2014.
FEC Points and Money:
The pair split first- and second-place money as well as FEC points, so each
earned $1,036,800 and 400.00 FEC points.
Horschel vaults 67 places to 33rdin the FEC standings-
Piercy jumps 43 spots to 27th
Since this was a team event, no individual stats are compiled.
Piercy wins in his 14th start of the season, replacing a previous-best T6 at the Farmers back in January.
Season Form: 1-MC-16-24-60-17-20-MC-6
Horschel wins in his 13th event of the season, records his third straight top-11 finish, and brushes aside a previous-best T5 at the RBC Heritage, two weeks and two starts ago.
Season Form: 1-11-5-MC-54-MC-MC-MC-MC
FUN FACT #4: Speaking of the Heritage, Piercy finished T16 to Horschel’s T5. Turns out the duo roomed together that week in Hilton Head. #Chemistry
This was an intriguing pairing otherwise, considering you can’t find anything in common (on the surface) like: where they’re from; where they live; what college they attended, etc. #NoCorrelation
Past champ and World No. 56 Jason Dufner and World No. 22 Pat Perez hung up a bogey-free, 4-under-par 33-35=68 in the final round to post 21-under 267, up three places to solo 2nd, one shy of champions and playing competitors Horschel and Piercy, who shot 67.
Dufner, a playoff winner here in 2012, records his second straight top 5 after T5 last year teamed with fellow Auburn alum Patton Kizzire. Overall, it was his sixth top 10 in nine tries and fourth top 5. Interestingly, his T5 last year came after a 3-year absence from the tournament despite being a past winner.
Perez was making his tourney debut in the team format.
After opening in 66-72-61, the duo began T5 on 17-under, three shy of leaders Kisner/Brown.
Playing out of the third-to-last group, they circled four birdies at holes 1 (from 16'5"), 2, 7 and 11, with Dufner coming up short on a 14'3" birdie try at the par-5 18th to force extra time.
To his credit, however, Dufner did knock in three par-savers from between five and 17 feet to keep the card clean, including a 16-footer from just off the green at the par-3 third. This team event was just what Dufner needed. It you take out a T17 (Match Play), his prior five starts read: MC-MC-64-MC-55
Perez wasn’t hot coming in either: MC-MC-52-20-41
FUN FACT #5: Dufner teamed with Horschel at the unofficial QBE Shootout last December and finished DFL. Perez also played the QBE, finishing T3 with Brian Harman. #ExperienceInTeamEventsMatters
Similar to Horschel/Piercy, this tandem of 40-somethings are not from the same town, do not reside in the same town, and didn’t go to the same college.
Speaking of, Dufner is pumped right now after Auburn Men’s Golf won their first SEC Championship since 2002 on Sunday. #WarEagle
Schwartzel and Oosthuizen, both South Africans and both live in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. #Neighbors
For Schwartzel, this was his tourney debut and first top-25 finish of the season in 11 starts, so he seriously NEEDED this team event as well. He was a late-sub for Branden Grace, who recently welcomed a baby boy.
For Oosty, this was his second Zurich after a T24 last year with Grace. He’s pretty solid right now with top-12 finishes in his last three starts.
Field Scoring Average:
This was the 70th playing of the Zurich, 13th at TPC Louisiana, 12th consecutive, and second straight as a team event.
Par: 72 (36-36)
Cumulative scoring averages:
R1: 65.89 (best ball)
R2: 73.86 (alternate shot)
R3: 65.22 (best ball)
R4: 72.25 (alternate shot)
Leader/co-leaders by Round:
A total of 36 teams from a field of 80 teams made the 36-hole cut of 5-over 139:
13 (of 40) EARLY/late
23 (of 40) LATE/early
Top 5 Teams (10 players):
Dufner/Perez (2nd); Oosthuizen/Schwartzel (3rd); Garnett/Hadley (T4)
They missed the cut this week by two shots (65-76).
FUN FACT #6: Fleetwood holed out for eagle at the par-5 18th on Sunday from 47 yards away, vaulting his team into a share of 4th-place. As a result, his teammate, non-member and fellow Englishman Chris Paisley earned a top-10 exemption into this week’s Wells Fargo, which he’s accepted. Paisley, who’s a one-time winner on the Euro Tour (125 events), is a U of Tennessee product and lives in Florida with his wife, who he met at UT.
R1: 60: Reavie/Glover; Zhang/Dou
R3: 61: Horschel/Piercy; Dufner/Perez; Garnett/Hadley
R4: 67: Horschel/Piercy
R1: 49 total: Led by: Reavie/Glover (60) and Zhang/Dou (60)
R3: 18 total: Led by: Horschel/Piercy (61) and Garnett/Hadley (61)
R4: Horschel/Piercy (67); Dufner/Perez (68); Schwartzel/Oosthuizen (68)
FUN FACT #7: There were 116 total rounds played using alternate shot. Just 4 of them were bogey-free (3.4%).
What We Learned:
Zurich Ambassadors: If you played the Team Zurich angle, you were rewarded with a:
Win: Billy Horschel
T4: Tommy Fleetwood (joined Zurich family in 2018)
Updated Top 10 in FedExCup standings (points):
Justin Thomas (idle) remains No. 1 in the standings for an 11th event in a row and a 10th overall week this season:
1. Justin Thomas (1,769)
2. Patton Kizzire (1,329)
3. Bubba Watson (1,286)
4. Phil Mickelson (1,248)
5. Patrick Reed (1,216); UP one
6. Dustin Johnson (1,176); DOWN one
7. Jon Rahm (1,139)
8. Tony Finau (1,074); UP two
9. Justin Rose (1,030); DOWN one
10. Andrew Landry (1,011); DOWN one