By Sam McPherson
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans and its unique team format once again provided loads of excitement for golf fans on Sunday. Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy carded a fourth-round best 67 in the alternate-shot format to move up from fifth place and claim the PGA Tour title at the TPC Louisiana course in Avondale. The duo carded five birdies in the first 11 holes and then hung on to post their 22-under winning score by making seven straight pars to close out the final round.
For their winning efforts, Horschel and Piercy each earned $1.04 million and 400 FedExCup points, but the win does not count toward golf’s world rankings. Horschel also won the 2013 Zurich Classic when it was a normal Tour stop with traditional single-golfer scoring. This is the second year of the event’s unique team format, where golfers partner up and shoot best ball on Thursday and Saturday, combined with alternate-shot golf on Friday and Sunday.
The winning duo started the fourth round in fifth place, trailing third-round leaders Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner, who shot 77 on Sunday to fall into a tie for 15th place. Michael Kim and Andrew Putnam started Sunday in second place, but they shot a 76 to end up tied with Brown and Kisner. Meanwhile, Horschel and Piercy took advantage, as did second-place finishers Jason Dufner and Pat Perez, who carded a 68 in the fourth round. Louis Oosthuizen and Charles Schwartzel finished third.
The alternate-shot rounds were volatile on both Friday and Sunday, as both teams that led after Thursday’s best-ball round struggled on Friday in the alternate-shot format. After shooting 60 in best ball on Friday, Lucas Glover and Chez Reavie posted a 75 to drop out of contention, while the team of Zecheng Dou and Xinjun Zhang carded an 80 in the second round to miss the cut entirely.
Kim and Putnam held the second-round lead at 13-under after shooting a 69 on Friday, while Brown and Kisner were one shot back. Both those teams had posted 62 on Thursday in the first round, and both teams had solid third rounds as well, with Brown and Kisner carding a 64 on Saturday, and Kim and Putnam managing a 66 score.
Next On The Tee: Wells Fargo Championship
The PGA Tour heads to Charlotte, NC, this week for the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club. Brian Harman is the defending champion, and the field is loaded with top players, as many golfers want to tune up and get their games right before the Players Championship the following week in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Harman will have a tough time winning this event for the second year in a row.
Among the notables playing in the Wells Fargo event are recent major championship winners Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Martin Kaymer, Brooks Kopeka, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, and Adam Scott. If that wasn’t enough to pack the field full of champions, there are 37 Tour winners from the last two seasons playing as well. Also, Tiger Woods is teeing it up at Quail Hollow after a four-week absence from PGA Tour play. Woods won this event in 2007.
The event, played at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, NC, last year, returns to Quail Hollow, which hosted the PGA Championship in 2017. Four times in the last six Wells Fargo Championship tournaments held at Quail Hollow, a playoff was needed to decide the winner. George Cobb designed the original course, which opened in 1961, but Arnold Palmer modified several of the holes in the mid-1980s, before Tom Fazio executed re-designs in both 1997 and 2003. Quail Hollow is scheduled to host the Presidents Cup in 2021.
The Quail Hollow Club course plays 7,442 yards long and is a par 72.
Favorites: Rickie Fowler, Lucas Glover, Rory McIlroy
Players to Watch: Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez, Andrew Putnam
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf and fantasy sports for CBS Local. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach. Follow him on Twitter @sxmcp, because he’s quite prolific despite also being a college English professor and a certified copy editor.