The 7,425-yard, par-72 TPC Louisiana is the host site of the 2019 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The event’s been held in the New Orleans area since 1938 but switched to a team format in 2017 and will be played in pairs for the third consecutive year.
We just missed out on hitting Patrick Cantlay at +2200 at the RBC Heritage this past week as C.T. Pan — previously ranked No. 111 in the Official World Golf Ranking — claimed his first PGA Tour victory.
Course and format
All four par 3s at TPC Louisiana exceed 200 yards while four of 10 par 4s measure less than 400 yards. The Pete Dye design is covered with over 100 bunkers and features five ponds while weaving throughout the Louisiana wetlands, flush with wildlife.
The field includes 80 teams of two for 160 players in total. The weekend narrows to the top 35 teams (including ties) after the first 36 holes. Rounds 1 and 3 will operate under best ball (fourballs) format with the second and final rounds switching to alternate shot (foursomes) rules.
Teams are composed of the top 80 players in the Tour’s priority ranking to commit to the event and their choice of partner with PGA Tour status or sponsor exemption.
Key stats to consider for the 2019 Zurich Classic
The leaderboards from the last three runnings of this event under the conventional format from 2014-16 were built off success in the key stats of Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Proximity from 200-plus Yards, Par 3 Efficiency: 200-225 Yards, and Putting: 20-25 Feet, according to historical data from Fantasy National.
The previous two winning teams — Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy in 2018, and Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith in 2017 — remain together in 2019, as do respective runner-up pairings Jason Dufner and Pat Perez, and Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown. The 2016 solo winner, Brian Stuard, returns with partner Russell Knox.
2019 Zurich Classic: Sleepers and value bets
Joaquin Niemann and Dylan Frittelli +5000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Niemann and Frittelli have each been off since the Valero Texas Open, where the former missed the cut and the latter finished T42. Ranked No. 148 and 94 in the world, respectively, Niemann ranks seventh and Frittelli 41st in this week’s stat model.
Neither has won on the PGA Tour as of yet, but they’re good course fits and both have placed well in weaker fields this season.
Sungjae Im is ninth in this week’s model with a high rank of fifth in SG: T2G. Then, Kim is just 114th in the model, but he’s second in the field in the key proximity distance and does well on long par 3s. Kim has just one top 10 back in November, but Im has racked up five this season. Each of them had the weekend off after missing the cut at the RBC Heritage. Im won twice on the Web.com Tour last season, and Kim has two wins on the Asian circuit.
Lovelady and Varner both rank in the top 25 of the overall stat model, and each played here last year but on separate teams and missed the weekend. Varner finished T8 as a solo participant in 2016.
Their games align well, with Lovelady excelling on the key par 3 distance and on approaches from 200-plus yards and Varner’s strengths lying in ball striking and tee shots.
2019 Zurich Classic: The winners
The heavy chalk this week is on the Australian duo of Adam Scott and Jason Day (+600). Day had two top 5s at TPC Louisiana in 2016 and 2015, but he finished T34 with Ryan Ruffels as his teammate in 2018. The Aussies rank 28th and 14th in the world, respectively; however, previous leaderboards show little preference for pedigree.
We’re better off looking for value.
Jhonattan Vegas and Abraham Ancer +19000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Vegas and Ancer rank 79th and 61st, respectively, in the world ranking, but 13th and 16th in the stat model. Each has participated in the team event once in the past two years with separate partners.
They each had their best finish of 2019 at The Players and Vegas finished T5 in the 2016 Zurich Classic. He can share his knowledge of the course with his less experienced but expert ball-striking partner.