The revamped Zurich Classic is off and running and after one round the event is already a hit.
What has traditionally been a throwaway event on the PGA Tour schedule has turned into one of its more talked-about because of the new team format. On Thursday the two-man teams took on TPC Louisiana in alternate shot. Leading the way are the duos of Kyle Stanley/Ryan Ruffels and Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer, who each lit up the Pete Dye track with impressive 6-under 66’s. Four teams are within a shot of the leaders, including K.J. Choi and the fresh-out-of-retirement Charlie Wi, Ben Martin and Ben Crane, Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith and Charley Hoffman and Nick Watney.
Today the teams will play best ball. Follow along with scores here.
Things to watch this weekend
A handful of players came into the event without full (or any) PGA Tour status, playing as partners of established players. Through one round many are near the top of the leaderboard. With players in the event earning FedExCup points, this week can change a player’s career – a win earns a two-year exemption on Tour and full playing status. A high finish will put them closer to a card and at least earn them a spot in Web.com Tour Finals and a clear path to the Tour.
Ryan Ruffels - The 19-year-old Australian sensation is one of the brightest talents in golf and finds himself in the lead after Round 1 along with partner Kyle Stanley. With Ruffels, it’s not a question of if he will ever make it to the Tour but when.
Charlie Wi - As mentioned in Wednesday’s edition, Charlie Wi announced last year that he was taking a step back from playing golf full-time. Playing with wily veteran K.J. Choi, he now finds himself just one shot back.
Chase Koepka - Brooks’ younger brother is making his first-ever PGA Tour start and his brother comes in red hot after last week’s runner-up in Texas. Chase was a star at South Florida, winning the most tournaments in school history and earning honorable mention All-American honors. The Koepka’s are T11 and three back.
Ian Poulter - Last week Ian Poulter failed to earn the $30k needed to regain his card through a medical extension, losing his full-time place on the PGA Tour. Poulter is paired with fellow veteran Geoff Ogilvy and finds himself just three shots back after a three-under 69.
A couple of Texans
It looks like Ryan Palmer and Jordan Spieth’s game go together like brisket and barbecue sauce. The long-hitting Palmer hasn’t won since 2010. Could he get back in the winner’s circle while Spieth gets his second W of 2017?
A guy who knows his stuff
I hosted analytics guru and Head of Intelligence at the 15th Club Jake Nichols on the podcast to talk about golf’s stats revolution. He predicted that the Spieth and Palmer team would play well together and lifted the veil on how they work with tour pros, as well as how amateurs can take a closer look at their games. Listen to the podcast on our website, iTunes or Stitcher. And leave a review!
ShotLink measures 1.3 million golf shots every year on the PGA TOUR. Skratch took at a look at how that actually happens.
The trio of Sebastian Munoz, Rob Oppenheim and Sepp Straka sit atop the leaderboard at the Web Tour’s El Bosque Mexico Championship. The course annually plays as one of the toughest on the Tour, which makes their opening 7-under 65s all the more impressive. Full scores
On Wednesday, the Texas Longhorns captured their fifth straight Big 12 conference title, narrowly edging Oklahoma State by a shot at Prairie Dunes. The Longhorns were paced by two of their stars, Scottie Scheffler and Doug Ghim, who each finished in a tie for second behind Kansas’ Chase Hanna. The Longhorns have been a bit of a disappointment this season but it looks like they might be hitting their stride at just the right time.
Tom Gillis publicly shames Ben Crane for slow play and lack of payment on a bet.
The European Tour is in China for the Volvo Open. Live scores here.
No home cookin’, Stricker denied special exemption for U.S. Open
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