2024 Zurich Classic First-Round Leader Picks: FRL Bet for TPC Louisiana

2024 Zurich Classic First-Round Leader Picks: FRL Bet for TPC Louisiana article feature image

Via Raj Mehta/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Highsmith of the United States acknowledges fans after a putt on the 11th green during the third round of the Texas Children’s Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course on March 30, 2024 in Houston, Texas.

Here's everything you need to know about 2024 Zurich Classic first-round leader picks — our expert's best FRL bet for this week's PGA Tour event in Avondale, Louisiana.

With the RBC Heritage in the rear-view mirror, we now look forward to this week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans. TPC Louisiana hosts once again, which it has done annually since 2007.

TPC Louisiana is a par-72, 7,435-yard track designed by Pete Dye that is a nice relief in terms of difficulty following a challenging stretch of the PGA Tour season.

Find my 2024 Zurich Classic first-round leader picks below.

2024 Zurich Classic First-Round Leader (FRL) Picks

As is always my strategy for targeting first-round leaders, I'm searching for golfers who tee off earlier in the day. The first wave almost always scores better than the second wave, which makes sense considering that the greens only firm up as the round progresses.

The earlier a golfer tees off, the more soft greens he faces that are much more receptive to his shots. The one objection to this general rule of thumb is when there is an expected weather change between the first and second waves, but that will not be the case on Thursday as winds are only expected to pick up as the day progresses into the late afternoon.

Andrew Putnam & Joe Highsmith FRL +5000 (bet365 | 0.16 Units)

Thursday Tee Time: 9:31 a.m. ET

That brings us to Andrew Putnam and Joe Highsmith, who tee off in the eighth of 20 groups on Thursday. There are actually 40 total groups, but the field goes off on split tees simultaneously.

I don't know if I have the confidence in Putnam and Highsmith to take down this field over four days, but they possess the tools to lead a round. Putnam enters this week in good form, making the weekend in 10 of his past 12 tournaments while posting five top-20 finishes over that stretch.

He is a well-rounded golfer who is strong in every aspect of the game except Driving Distance, which is why I particularly like these two as a strong complementary pairing because distance off the tee is one of the few stats where Highsmith is above the PGA Tour average. I'm not trying to take away from Highsmith, who flirted with winning the Korn Ferry Tour Championship this year before heading over to the Tour.

Highsmith has gone on to see mixed results at this level, but the ceiling is there as he tied for sixth at the Puerto Rico Open. At the end of the day, all we really need from Highsmith is distance off the tee and some strong scrambling when called upon because Putnam should be able to take care of the rest.

Here's my full betting card for the 2024 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, and you can find more of my thoughts on this week's tournament on the Links + Locks Best Bets podcast:

  • Tom Hoge & Maverick McNealy Outright Winner (+2700 at bet365) – 0.5 Units
  • Thomas Detry & Robert MacIntyre Outright Winner (+4500 at DraftKings) – 0.4 Units
  • Davis Thompson & Andrew Novak Outright Winner (+4500 at DraftKings) – 0.4 Units
  • Doug Ghim & Chan Kim Outright Winner (+5000 at bet365) – 0.4 Units
  • Greyson Sigg & Chesson Hadley Top 20 (+280 at DraftKings) – 0.26 Units
  • Andrew Putnam & Joe Highsmith FRL (+5000 at bet365) – 0.16 Units

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