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Bob Weeks Picks Six – The Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay - The Canadian Press

Last week: We returned two winning tickets at the RBC Heritage. One was fairly easy – Scottie Scheffler as a winner. The other was Sahith Theegala for a top 20. He actually ended up in second place so lots of margin there.

This week: The Zurich Classic is the PGA Tour’s only team event (other than the mixed team Grant Thornton, an unofficial tournament) and it has proved exceptionally popular with the players. That’s in large part to the team aspect but also the food that is put out on the course. The format is two rounds of better-ball and two of alternate shot. It’s the latter one that usually proves troublesome as golfers try to avoid saying, “sorry” after putting their partner into the woods. Some of the partnerships are long-standing ones among friends, while others are more of teams of convenience as in, “Are you looking for a partner?”

To Win

Cantlay/Schauffele +450

Not great value for these two but it’s because of their past successes here. They won the event in 2022 and finished tied for fourth a year ago. They are also on form. Cantlay finished tied for third last week while Schauffele has seven top-10 finishes this season. The two also have a long-standing friendship which makes missing shots a lot easier.

Taylor/Hadwin +2200

The Canadian duo finished runner-up last year, largely on the strength of their 63 in alternate shot, which was the best of the week. These two grew up together playing at Ledgeview Golf Course in Abbotsford, B.C., and have been friends a long time. Both have great short games and the test will be off the tee. This could be a preview of the Canadian Olympic team in Paris as well.

Top 10

Conners/Pendrith +250

These two were college roommates for four years at Kent State University and played a lot of golf together over the years including at the last Presidents Cup. That comfort should spill over into their partnership this week. They match up very well too. Pendrith is long, Conners is accurate. Pendrith is coming in off a T11 at the Corales Puntacana Championship, his best finish since January.

Lowry/McIlroy -115

The two players with the Irish lilt in their voices are pals and have partnered in past Ryder Cups. Going out and having some fun in this event could be a help for McIlroy’s frustrating play so far this season. Lowry has been playing well, with four finishes in the top 25 although he’s cooled off in his last two starts with a T43 at the Masters and a T64 at RBC Heritage

Top 20

Garnett/Straka +130

Straka is coming off a T5 finish at the RBC Heritage which came after a T16 at the Masters. He sits second in driving accuracy on the tour. Garnett won in Puerto Rico earlier this year to regain full status on the PGA Tour. The 40-year-old finished tied for 18th at the RBC Heritage last week.

Hoge/McNealy +100

Hoge is very quietly having a strong year, finishing inside the top 20 in seven of 10 starts. He’s second on the tour in Strokes Gained: Approach and second in Proximity to the Hole. McNealy has only missed one cut in 10 starts and is 17th in Strokes Gained: Total. The two players make a nice combination with strengths and weaknesses balancing out.