Diane Knox Balas: Our Pickswise golf analyst with her Zurich Classic best bets and course insights

Scottie Scheffler Masters
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Diane Knox Balas

Golf· 3 weeks ago

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Golf analyst for Pickswise.

Well, we were SO CLOSE to starting my Pickswise career with two outright winners in a row last week at the RBC Heritage, but a pair of poor shots from Shane Lowry on the back nine really cost him…and us! But never mind, golfers need to have short memories, and this week is certainly one to enjoy. It’s off to New Orleans for a unique week on the PGA Tour and a break from the traditional stroke-play events. 

The Zurich Classic is the only full-field team event on the regular schedule. The winning pair each receive a whopping paycheck of $1.9 million, a two-year exemption and 400 FedExCup points. Plus, in an attempt to kick off the weekend in style, the teams each select a walk-up song to accompany them to the first tee on Saturday. From Kanye and P Diddy, to Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, the selections are eclectic to say the least. But hey, it’s “The Big Easy” and the Bourbon Street party atmosphere carries to the golf course.

Zurich Classic Tournament Format

So here’s the rundown of how it all plays out.  The first and third rounds (Thursday and Saturday) are labelled as Fourball, which basically means “best ball.” Each player plays each hole as normal and the team records the better score of the two players. So if Player A makes par and Player B birdies, the team is marked down for a birdie.

The second and fourth rounds (Friday and Sunday) are referred to as Foursomes, which translates to “alternate shot.”  Before the round begins, the team decide which player will tee off on the odd holes, meaning the other teammate will play the second shot, etc. They then simply switch turns on the tee for the even holes.

The cut is made at the end of Friday, as per usual, and the top-33 teams plus ties will play the weekend.

TPC Louisiana: What you need to know

TPC Louisiana is another Pete Dye track, which he designed in 2004 with the help of PGA Tour players Kelly Gibson and Steve Elkington. I mention this because I work alongside Elk in one of my other roles at Secret Golf and have heard some great stories about the build of this course and Dye’s vision for eighteen holes on the bayou. 

It’s a Par 72 measuring just over 7,400 yards with 100+ bunkers. But don’t expect it to play as tough as Dye’s other masterpieces, such as TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town; this is one of the most scorable courses on the Tour schedule. We’re going to see A LOT of birdies.

Zurich Classic Past Results

Last year, “Team Mullet” took the trophy (which is really a pair of matching belts that resemble the ones handed out in WWE!). The Aussie duo of Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith defeated South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in a playoff. And I refer to them as “Team Mullet” because Leishman famously donned a fabulous mullet wig on the first tee on Saturday to pay homage to his teammate’s signature hairstyle. Smith was also on the winning team in 2017 with Jonas Blixt, before Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy won in ’18 and 2019 belonged to Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer (2020 was canceled due to COVID).

Knox’s Knockout Zurich Classic picks

Ryan Palmer and Scottie Scheffler (+1100)

Available with FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

You’ve got to hand it to Ryan Palmer… he’s got the art of picking a teammate down to a tee. First up, he played with fellow Texan Jordan Spieth, then switched it up in ’19 and won with Jon Rahm! And this year he’s playing alongside Masters champion Scottie Scheffler. Palmer has a thing for those World No.1’s. 

After the win with Rahm, I asked Ryan how the pairing came about, and he told me he simply shot him a text and hoped for the best! I’m sure he was ahead of the game this year and fired off that text to Scottie before his green jacket. Anyway, we know the type of form Scheffler is in after four wins in his last six starts and a monumental rise to the top spot in the world rankings. Plus, Palmer has winning form around TPC Louisiana. I’m excited to see what this team can do.

Joaquin Niemann and Mito Pereira (+2500)

Available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

I’m expecting a bit of spice from the Chilean pairing this week. These guys are good friends, play a lot of practice rounds with one another and were even grouped together in the final round of the RBC Heritage on Sunday. Both are in-form, coming off a week full of positives at Harbour Town and are fantastic ball-strikers. Neimann’s game is impressive all around right now, but it is his iron and approach play are so dialed in. Meanwhile, Pereira is sneaky-good on the greens. I like them a lot, and with some big headline pairings pushing them down the board, the price provides great value too.

Will Zalatoris and Davis Riley (+3600)

Available with FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

I’m staying on the friend theme with this team. Zalatoris and Riley have known each other since their days playing junior golf all over the United States. They formed a strong friendship and even lived together in Dallas after turning pro. The two played the Korn Ferry Tour together and, now that they’ve both graduated to the PGA Tour, this seems like the perfect pairing. Riley is putting together a solid rookie season, with two top-10’s including a runner-up finish at the Valspar a few weeks ago. They know each other’s games inside out and should relish the chance to now combine their talents as a team.

Zurich Classic Prop Bets

Patton Kizzire and J.T. Poston Top-5 Finish (+1000)

Available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

I feel this pairing could come out of nowhere and shoot up that leaderboard come Sunday. Two Sea Island boys who play together regularly on their weeks off, both Kizzire and Poston are coming off some strong play last week – especially Poston, who shot a 64 on Sunday and grabbed himself a T3 finish. Kizzire also loves this format, and I think the two will work really well together.

Richy Werenski and Peter Uihlein Top-10 Finish (+1100)

Available with DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

A tried-and-tested pairing who finished third last year, just one shot off a place in the playoff. Neither is having a remarkable season, but Uihlein has been pulling some low rounds out of the bag. It worked for them last year, and you can find an appealing price on a top-10 finish.

Pickswise is the home of free expert Golf Picks and Golf Predictions. Our PGA expert picks go live every Tuesday, so check out our latest golf picks, best bets, and analysis for this week’s PGA tournament now.

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