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Perry’s 2019 Zurich Classic Betting Guide: The Toughest Tournament to Handicap

Credit:

Joshua S. Kelly, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Ian Poulter

  • The Zurich Classic is one of the toughest PGA Tour events to handicap because of its team-based format.
  • Josh Perry analyzes the field and offers a few bets that offer value at TPC Louisiana.

It’s time for the most difficult betting week on the PGA Tour.

The Zurich Classic is the lone team event on the regular Tour schedule. It features 80 tandems playing two rounds of best ball and another two rounds of alternate shot.

There’s really nothing that can prepare you for this event, as the only team competitions we see any of these guys play is the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, but that’s match play and this is stroke play, which calls for an entirely different strategy.

One top of that, the majority of this field isn’t good enough to qualify for either the Ryder or Presidents Cup, so we’re basically flying blind with how they’ll perform in this format.

The Course

This is only the third year of the team-based format but TPC Louisiana has hosted this event 13 of the last 14 years.

TPC Louisiana is a 7,445 yard par 72 where — at least when it played as a regular tournament — par-4 scoring and Greens in Regulation (GIR) counted among the most important stats.

Over the years a variety of players won this event, from bombers like Bubba Watson to short-hitters like Jason Bohn and Jerry Kelly. The first tandem to win here was Cam Smith and Jonas Blixt. Those two players rely on their short games, but last year it was a ball-striking duo, Scott Piercy and Billy Horschel, that won.

In other words, any type of style can succeed here and that adds to the difficulty of finding a winner.

The Field

A couple of international pairs headline this year’s field. Jason Day and Adam Scott opened as the favorites at +700 with Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood right behind at +800.

I wouldn’t bet either of these teams, but Garcia/Fleetwood is the most interesting of the two. Fleetwood was fifth last year with Chris Paisley, so the upgrade in partners could make this duo a threat.

The Patricks (Reed and Cantlay) are the top American partnership at +1200. Cantlay is in a lot better form right now, so it will come down to Reed keeping the ball in play. World No. 11 Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer are fourth off the board at +1600.

The defending champs,  Piercy and Horschel are tied with Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes and Tony Finau and Kyle Stanley at +1800.

The last notable star is Brooks Koepka, playing with his brother Chase, at +4000.

The Favorites

I can’t really imagine betting one of these top teams. Name-brand players have struggled in the first two years of this format. It’s a short sample size, but there’s a lot more on the line for the lower-level guys in terms of locking up a tour card and a spot in the PGA Championship.

I don’t like guessing at motivation levels and, with the top guys, it’s tough to know if they’re fully invested.

Abraham Ancer is paired with Jhonattan Vegas for the Zurich Classic. Credit: Soobum Im

The Mid-Tier

I started my card here with Chez Reavie and Lucas Glover at +4750. Both are excellent ball-strikers and should keep each other out of trouble during the alternate shot format. Glover’s improved putting this year is also a positive for this team that finished 22nd here a year ago.

I also added Ian Poulter and Sam Horsfield at +4200. Poulter has shown his propensity to play well in this kind of format during match play. Meanwhile, Horsfield could get a tour card if this duo comes out on top. Playing with his fellow Englishman should give him plenty of motivation to win this thing.

I’m also backing a team that has threatened here twice, Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown, at +3300. Kisner and Brown lost in a playoff two years ago, then last year were in contention again down the stretch before collapsing in alternate shot in the final round. Kisner is in great form this year and while Scott Brown hasn’t popped up much, these two just seem to play well together.

My last add in the Mid-Tier is Jhonattan Vegas and Abraham Ancer at +4000. This is another pretty solid pair of players we’ve backed multiple times to win throughout the last calendar year. They seem to be getting a good number here in a field that pretty wide open.

Longshots

With this tournament being so hard to predict, I’m going to go way off the board with a couple of duos at long odds.

As I said before, par-4 scoring is important here and Roberto Castro and Cameron Tringale both rank inside the top 50 in that metric, so I’ll take a shot on this pair at 200-1.

Closing out my card will be Ted Potter Jr. and Nate Lashley at 225-1. Lashley was 15th here last year with Rob Oppenheim and Potter has at least won on the Tour before, so he’s an upgrade.

This pair is being priced below teams that don’t even have two full-time tour players, so I think this partnership has a chance to succeed. If you can find a top 10 or 20 bet, I think they’ll be of some real value.

The Zurich Classic Card

  • Kisner/Brown +3300 (1 unit)
  • Vegas/Ancer +4000 (.825 units)
  • Poulter/Horsfield +4200 (.785 units)
  • Glover/Reavie +4750 (.7 units)
  • Castro/Tringale +20000 (.165 units)
  • Potter Jr./Lashley +22500  (.145 units)

Total Stake: 3.62 units

Season: -14.37 units

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