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|Viktor Hovland & Collin Morikawa||+800
|Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele||+800
|Marc Leishman & Cameron Smith||+900
|Billy Horschel & Sam Burns||+1000
|Ryan Palmer & Scottie Scheffler||+1100
|Tommy Fleetwood & Sergio Garcia||+1600
|Shane Lowry & Ian Poulter||+2000
|Joaquin Niemann & Mito Pereira||+2000
|Talor Gooch & Max Homa||+2500
|Harold Varner III & Bubba Watson||+2500
Billy Horschel & Sam Burns the outright pick at +1200 with Caesars Sportsbook
Harold Varner III & Bubba Watson each way at +2500 with DraftKings
Marc Leishman & Cameron Smith to miss the cut +350 with BetMGM
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Golf has a prickly relationship with formats that are anything other than stroke play.
On the one hand, the sport craves something different. The DP World Tour went through a stage of creating all sorts of different tournaments, but their popularity waned almost as soon as they were announced, never mind waiting to see what actually happened.
Greg Norman’s Saudi Arabian adventure is also excited about the idea of golfing novelty, but so far its greatest innovation has been controversy and intrigue like we’ve never seen before. Not quite what was planned.
The good news is that a surprising number of stars turn up.
This year, for example, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland are partners, and the new Masters champion Scottie Scheffler is also in town.
But it is also notable that a number of top players use this week to give a mate (or even a family member) a handout.
In the past, this has seen four-time major winner Brooks Koepka partner with his brother Chase, a golfer who is yet to emerge from the second tier.
This week Bill Haas teams up with his dad Jay, a senior golfer. It’s a fun idea, just maybe not quite as competitive as the rest of the year.
The field also struggles a little because it sits in-between major championships and the world’s elite have their eye on preparation for next month’s PGA Championship – this is an ideal week to rest and recuperate, in other words.
That means opportunity for others, of course, and, as you’ll soon learn, that informs this week’s selections.
A final reminder on the format: the teams play four ball (or better ball) in rounds one and two, then foursomes (or alternate shot) in rounds two and four.
In each of the first four editions, the winners reached 20-under for the week and twice went much lower (27- and 26-under).
Birdies, especially in the four balls, are essential, in other words.
Billy Horschel is a big fan of the host course, the Pete Dye-designed TPC Louisiana.
The 35-year-old won the tournament when it was an individual event in 2013 and then he won it again alongside Scott Piercy in 2018.
He’s also in terrific form with 16 top 25 finishes since the start of last year, including victory in the 2021 WGC – Dell Match Play.
His partner this week, Sam Burns, is in even better form over the same period, landing 20 top 25s and no less than three victories.
Moreover, Burns hails from Louisiana and almost all of his best golf comes on Bermuda greens (which is what he’ll face this week).
Toss in that both players rank in the top 25 for Par Breaking this season and they look to have a great opportunity this week.
Back them each way at +1200 with Caesars Sportsbook which pays out a generous seven places.
It’s been a fine year for Harold Varner III.
He won the Saudi International, was sixth in THE PLAYERS Championship, spent the first half of his Masters debut in the top 10, and was third last week in the RBC Heritage.
And who was the first person to congratulate him after his win in the Middle East?
Only the man he beat into second and a man he calls a close friend – his partner this week, Bubba Watson.
That’s good vibes, good form, and also really good form on Dye designs (in THE PLAYERS and last week).
To that excellent recipe, we can also add a very decent course, tournament, and Dye record for Watson.
The two-time Masters champion won the event in its previous format (in 2011), he’s a two-time top 10 finisher in the pairs, and he’s also a two-time winner at Dye’s TPC River Highlands.
That’s a potent combination.
This last suggestion is inspired by the numbers, and backed up by the story of the last fortnight.
The defending champions are Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith – two Australians who clearly love each other’s company.
Smith not only won 12 months ago he also won the first event in 2017.
So it seems like madness to back him to miss the cut, right?
Well, maybe not.
Because in the two renewals in-between his successes his pairing failed to make the weekend.
That alone makes the price of another missed cut tempting.
Then you throw in his disappointment at failing to convert a strong final round position at the Masters two weeks ago and a missed cut last week into the pot.
You could also note that he’s sometimes struggled with the foursomes format, even in victory.
Another bad round hitting alternate shots could easily prove fatal.
Take BetMGM’s +350 that the Aussies go home early.
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|The Zurich Classic of New Orleans Information|
|Tournament||The Zurich Classic of New Orleans|
|Location||TPC Louisiana, Avondale, Louisiana|
|Time||Thursday April 21 – Sunday April 24|
|How to watch||Thursday & Friday 3.30pm & 6.30pm ET (Golf Channel), Saturday & Sunday 1pm ET (Golf Channel) then 3pm ET (CBS). And all four days on Sky Sports.|
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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