2023 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana - Preview & Predictions

Social Navigation

2023 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana – Preview, Predictions, Stats, Odds and Strokes Gained Analysis

Golf, News

The PGA Tour heads down to Bayou Country just southwest of New Orleans for a unique team event at TPC Louisiana known as the Zurich Classic. With its origins 85 years ago, the tournament was a regular, stroke-play PGA event until 2017 when it became a two-man team event. With 80 teams in the field, one player from each team is initially chosen via the Tour priority rankings. That player can choose any partner who is also a PGA Tour member.

The teams will play “best ball” format during the first and third rounds while the second and fourth rounds will be “alternate shot” format. The top 33 teams (and ties) will make it through the cut-line after Friday’s round. The PGA Tour further describes the format in more detail:

For Foursomes play, players will rotate tee shots. One player will hit the tee shots on all the odd-numbered holes, and the other will hit the tee shot on even-numbered holes. Example: Player A and Player B are partners. On the first hole, Player A tees off; Player B plays the second shot; Player A plays the third shot; and so on until the ball is holed. The total strokes taken will result in the team’s score for that hole.

For Four-Ball play, the players on each team will each play his own ball throughout the entirety of the round, with the best score on each hole recorded. Example: On the first hole, both golfers on each team tee off. Player A pars the hole and Player B birdies it. The team will be credited with a birdie.

The winners earn 400 FedEx Cup points and two-year exemptions, but no world ranking points are awarded which takes away some pressure to make the cut. Both winners will earn invitations to the Sentry Tournament of Champions, THE PLAYERS Championship, and the PGA Championship.

It’s definitely a unique competition and a way for players to relax a bit after some strenuous past events such as the Masters, and before others like the upcoming PGA Championship. The New Orleans food and culture also add to the “pull” of this event and why there are typically a good number of high-ranked players in attendance every year. The tournament this year appears to have a smaller number of upper-tier of players thanks to the recent consecutive designated events. There are still some world-class players teaming up including defending champions Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa and Max Homa, Sam Burns, and Billy Horschel, Tom Kim and Si Woo Kim, and Sungjae Im and Keith Mitchell. After this elite group and a smaller second tier, the talent level of the teams decline quickly.

Betting Odds for the Zurich Classic

TPC Louisiana

Located just south of the Mississippi River in the New Orleans suburb of Avondale, TPC Louisiana is a par-72 course that stretches out to 7,425 yards. While the Zurich Classic has been a part of the PGA Tour’s annual rotation since 1958, TPC Louisiana became its current host in 2005. When it was a singles event up through 2016, past winners included Brian Stuard, Justin Rose, Billy Horschel, and Bubba Watson. Last year, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele set the team-play scoring record here at 29-under par.

Opened in 2004, the course was designed by world-famous architect Pete Dye in consultation with former players Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson. Built on a 250-acre tract of drained cypress swampland, it is a flat course with a base of pumped river sand. Dye reimagined this wetland environment with trees, lakes, mounds, and strategically placed waste areas. With 106 bunkers and seven holes with water in play, there are plenty of danger areas for players to be wary of. Cypress and pine trees fill the course giving it a scenic feel.

Course Features

Fairways and rough are bermudagrass while the greens are TifEagle bermuda overseeded with Poa Trivialis. Greens are smaller than average at 5,225 sq. ft. and run at an average of 12 on the stimpmeter. The rough is average length at 2″ and is non-penal.

Each of the par-5s rates as a great birdie opportunity with at least three of them easily reachable in two shots. The par-4s are on both ends of the length spectrum. Four of them measure over 475 yards while five measure less than 405 yards, including the driveable 16th hole. Each of the four par-3s measures over 200 yards and they represent three of the six toughest holes on the course.

As is typical, Dye created a “thinking man’s course” that demands precision around the water hazards and bunkers. Many holes, such as the par-4 16th present a risk/reward option. It challenges players to how much they are willing to risk to have a better scoring opportunity. It’s a very scoreable course as evidenced by last year’s record winning score, along with each of the prior four winning pairs reaching 20-under or better.

Strokes Gained Analysis

With Strokes Gained or other data not used for the team event, we will have to go back to 2016 and before to get a better picture of how this course plays. While the course is average in length, on some holes players will take less than driver off the tee to avoid many of the hazards. However, big hitters like Bubba Watson have used distance to their advantage by attacking the par-5s.

Statistically, off the tee seems not to matter as much here. Fairways are over 34 yards wide on average, and the rough is non-penal. The average driving distance ranking for the first 11 winners here at TPC Louisiana was only 32nd, while for driving accuracy it was only 38th.

Approach + Greens In Regulation

Before the format change to the team event, Strokes Gained Approach and Greens in Regulation were important for success here as seven of the 11 winners ranked inside the top-10 for GIR%. TPC Louisiana regularly ranked inside the top 10 easiest approach courses on Tour. Including the four par 3s that are each between 200-225 yards, over 30% of approach shots will come from over 200 yards making quality long iron play paramount to success.

Around the Green

Players can get away with shaky around-the-green play here as it consistently ranked among the easiest short-game courses on the PGA Tour. Six of the last seven winners before 2017 ranked inside the top 10 for putting average, and each of the last four gained at least 4.2 strokes putting. When Rose won he also ranked first in putting average for the week. In typical Pete Dye fashion, the greens are tiered and sloping, putting a premium on a precise approach game. The importance of this aspect will be multiplied during the best-ball format in the first and third rounds as each team will have two approach chances into each green.

To summarize, SG: Approach, Putting, Par 5 scoring, and Proximity from 200+ yards, along with the always important Birdie or Better % in a team event, are the most important stats to target for this week’s Zurich Classic.

Author: BN Staff

From the collective mind of the Bleacher Nation staff.