The PGA Tour tees off in New Orleans this week for the fifth edition of the Zurich Classic, the only team event on the tour’s regular season schedule.
While a much different feel than any event on Tour, it does provide a nice respite from stroke play, with many still in hangover mode from The Masters two week ago.
The field at TPC Louisiana includes 160 players comprised of 80 two-man teams, headlined by the Aussie duo of Cam Smith and Marc Leishman, who will return to defend their 2021 title.
As we do each week, what follows is a roundup of information and historical data to get you prepped for what should be an exciting week of golf in New Orleans.
2022 Zurich Classic Primer
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Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Dates: April 21-24, 2022
Where: Avondale, LA
Course: TPC Louisiana
Distance: Par 72, 7425 yards
Architect: Pete Dye
Format: Best-ball (Th, Sa), Alt-shot (Fr, Su)
Field: 160 players, 80 teams
Win Share: $1,494,000 (each)
FedEx Pts (Win): 400 (each)
Defending Champions: Cam Smith / Marc Leishman
Other Marquee Teams: Collin Morikawa & Viktor Hovland, Billy Horschel & Sam Burns, Scottie Scheffler & Ryan Palmer, Xander Schauffele & Patrick Cantlay, Sergio Garcia & Tommy Fleetwood
How to Follow the Zurich Classic
TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (GOLF); Sat-Sun: 1-3 p.m. (GOLF), 3-6 p.m. (CBS)
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thu: 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (ESPN+); Fri: 9:15 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (ESPN+); Sat: 8:45 a.m.-6 p.m. (ESPN+); Sun: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (ESPN+)
Watch PGA TOUR LIVE on ESPN+
PGA TOUR RADIO: Thu-Fri: 1-6:30 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 1-6 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com/liveaudio)
Zurich Classic History
While this will only be the fifth edition as a team format event, the Zurich Classic has been around for a very long time, with roots going all the way back to 1938. That first tournament was called the “Crescent City Open,” with Harry Cooper cashing a winner’s check worth $1,200. It was the 30th victory of his 31-win Hall of Fame career.
Other legendary Zurich champions include Jimmy Demaret (1940), Byron Nelson (1945-46), Billy Casper (1958, 1975), Gary Player (1972), Jack Nicklaus (1973), Lee Trevino (1974), Tom Watson (1980-81), Seve Ballesteros (1985), Ben Crenshaw (1987, 1994) and Vijay Singh (2004).
Despite nearly 70 editions of the tournament (there were no tournaments from 1949-1957), no player has been able to win the title more than twice, with nine players currently owning two victories.
Carlos Franco (1999 and 2000) was the last golfer to snag the title two times. He was also the fourth player in tournament history go back-to-back in the Big Easy, joining the aforementioned Nelson (1945-46) and Watson (1980-81), alongside Bo Wininger (1962-63).
The event has always been held in the New Orleans area, with TPC Louisiana – a design of the legendary architect Pete Dye, first hosting in 2005. It has been the host course since 2007, and has been prone to surrendering some very low scores.
The last five 72-hole Zurich champions (weather shortened it to 54 holes in 2016) have finished 19-under par or better.
In late 2016, fresh off the exciting 2016 Ryder Cup matches, the tournament received approval from the Tour to change to a team format event, and debuted in 2017 with eighty teams of two players: one member of each team is initially chosen via the Tour priority rankings, and his partner must be either a PGA Tour member or earn entry through a sponsor exemption.
History: Tournament Names
- Zurich Classic of New Orleans (2005-22)
- HP Classic of New Orleans (2003-04)
- Compaq Classic of New Orleans (1999-02)
- Freeport-McDermott Classic (1996-98)
- Freeport-McMoran Classic (1994-95)
- Freeport-McMoran Golf Classic (1992-93)
- USF&G Classic (1982-1991)
- USF&G New Orleans Open (1981)
- Greater New Orleans Open (1980)
- First NBC New Orleans Open (1975-1979)
- Greater New Orleans Invitational (1972-74)
- Greater New Orleans Open Invitational (1958-78)
- New Orleans Open (1939-1948)
- Crescent City Open (1938)
History: Recent Winners
2021: Cam Smith/Marc Leishman (-20)
2019: Jon Rahm/Ryan Palmer (-22)
2018: Billy Horschel/Scott Piercy (-22)
2017: Cam Smith/Jonas Blixt (-27)
2016: Brian Stuard (-15)
2015: Justin Rose (-22)
History: Tournament Records
262 (-26) Chip Beck (1988)
261 (-27) Jonas Blixt/Cam Scott (2017), Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown (2017)
2 – Henry Picard (1939, 1941), Byron Nelson (1945-46), Bo Wininger (1962-63), Frank Beard (1966, 1971), Billy Casper (1958, 1975), Tom Watson (1980-81), Chip Beck (1988, 1992), Ben Crenshaw (1987, 1994), Carlos Franco (1999-00)
Zurich Classic Defending Champions
At a sun-splashed TPC Louisiana, the duo of Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith claimed victory at the 2021 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, beating South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel with a par on the first playoff hole in an alternate-shot format.
The Aussies shot a closing 2-under 70 to reach 20-under par and force a playoff with the third-round leaders.
Early on the back nine it appeared the the Australian team was cruising to victory, but they lost a two-stroke lead with in a three-hole span, Leishman kept his side alive when he sank a 35-foot chip shot for birdie 3 at the short 16th hole after Smith hooked his drive into the water. Each team bogeyed the difficult par-3 17th hole and parred No. 18 to set up the playoff.
Leishman and Smith then prevailed after Oosthuizen hit his tee ball into the water on the first overtime hole, the par-5 18th.
Final Top-5 Leaders
Pos-Team-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Leishman / Smith -20 (-2)
2. Oosthuizen / Schwartzel -20 (-1)
3. Werenski / Uihlein -19 (-5)
4. Mitchell / Snedeker -18 (-3)
4. Horschel / Burns -18 (-3)
4. Bradley / Steele -18 (-2)
The Field at the 2022 Zurich Classic
Team play is notoriously hard to predict, as evidenced by the four sets of winners here – which included just one player ranked inside the world top 20 at the time of victory: No. 11 Jon Rahm, who teamed with Ryan Palmer (then ranked No. 70) in 2019.
Last season’s champs, Cam Smith (No. 6) and Marc Leishman (45), return with Smith ranked much higher entering this edition.
The highest-credentialed team in the field this year is world No. 2 Collin Morikawa and No. 5 Viktor Hovland, the only team with two top-10 ranked players.
Another top-ranked duo includes No. 4 Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele (12).
Finally, two more groups to keep an eye on: Texans Ryan Palmer and newly-minted Masters champ Scottie Scheffler, the world’s top-ranked player; and a pair of SEC products, both top-15 ranked players: No. 11 Sam Burns (LSU) and No. 14 Billy Horschel (Florida), the 2018 Zurich winner.
Odds To Win the 2022 Zurich Classic
At 8/1, top-ranked superstars Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa are slight favorites over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (9/1).
Defending champs, Cam Smith and Marc Leishman, were next at 10/1 with Scottie Scheffler and Ryan Palmer rounding out the top-5 betting favorites, alongside Sam Burns and Billy Horschel, at 12/1.
Top-5 Betting Favorites
1. Hovland-Morikawa (8/1)
2. Schauffele-Cantlay (9/1)
3. Smith-Leishman (10/1)
4. Scheffler-Palmer (12/1)
4. Burns-Horschel (12/1)
Full Field & Odds
Zurich Classic | TPC Louisiana | New Orleans, LA | April 21-24, 2022
Joel Cook and Carey Hoffman contributed to this report.
Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images