2017 Zurich Classic of New Orleans
(The 25th of 43 events in the PGA TOUR Season)
Avondale, La. April 27-30, 2017
Third-Round Notes – Saturday, April 29, 2017
This week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans is a 2-player team event featuring Foursomes (alternate shot) during the first and third rounds and Four-Ball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds.
Since the formation of the PGA TOUR in 1968, this is the first time an official event has utilized Foursome play as part of a team competition.
The Zurich Classic is the first official PGA TOUR team event in 36 years. The last official TOUR team event was the 1981 Walt Disney World National Team Championship, won by Vance Heafner and Mike Holland. The tournament became an individual stroke-play event in 1982.
The Zurich Classic awards FedExCup points and official money, and will count as an official victory for the members of the winning team. There are no Official World Golf Ranking points available this week.
54-hole cut (low 35 teams and ties): 36 teams (72 players) at 6-under 210.
Weather: Cloudy, with a high of 85. Wind SE 20-25 mph, gusting to 30 mph.
Due to expected weather issues Sunday, round-four tee times have been moved up and will be from 6:40 a.m. to 8:16 a.m.
Of the 42 teams competing in round three, 25 were unable to break par Saturday. Scores ranged from 67 to 78.
Third-Round Leaderboard (Foursome format)
Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith 67-62-68—197 (-19)
Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown 70-64-67—201 (-15)
Charley Hoffman/Nick Watney 67-65-69—201 (-15)
Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer 66-66-70—202 (-14)
Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith (-19)
Jonas Blixt (Sweden) and Cameron Smith (Australia) have remained bogey-free through 54 holes. At 19-under 197, the international duo will carry a 4-stroke lead into Sunday’s final round.
Following two early birdies at Nos. 2 and 3, the Blixt/Smith team settled for 11 straight pars before additional birdies at 15 and 18 resulted in the 68.
En route to winning last year’s weather-shortened Zurich Classic, Brian Stuard played all 54 holes without a bogey. Incidentally, the last player to win a 72-hole event on the PGA TOUR with no bogeys was Lee Trevino at the 1974 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Because of his top-125 finish (107th) in last year’s FedExCup standings, Blixt is in the field at THE PLAYERS Championship in two weeks. Smith, who finished 157th in the standings, is not presently in the field at TPC Sawgrass.
Smith came into this week off a T6 finish at the Valero Texas Open last week, his best performance this season. Blixt’s best showing this season is a T20 at the Farmers Insurance Open.
In Smith’s only previous appearance in New Orleans, he shot 69-70-69-69 to finish T43 in 2015. Blixt is making his fifth start in the Zurich Classic. He also posted four sub-par rounds in his first appearance in the tournament to finish T13 in 2012, the best result he’s had at TPC Louisiana (T72/2016, MC/2015, 70th/2013).
Smith, whose best PGA TOUR finish is a T4 at the 2015 U.S. Open, made his way back onto the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of his seventh place finish on the 2016 Web.com Tour priority list.
Blixt, winner of the 2012 Safeway Open and 2013 Greenbrier Classic, finished 107th in last year’s FedExCup standings.
Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown (-15)
After making nine straight pars to start their round, Aiken, South Carolina’s Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown collected birdies at Nos. 10, 11, 13, 15, 16 and 18 to post a 5-under 67. Their lone bogey of the day came at the par-3 17th. The 67 marked the low round of the day. By comparison, 66 was the low round in Foursomes in round one.
Kisner and Brown each have one win on the PGA TOUR. Brown is the winner of the 2013 Puerto Rico Open and Kisner broke through at the 2015 RSM Classic.
Each player has collected one runner-up finish this season. Brown’s T2 showing came at the Genesis Open, while Kisner claimed T2 honors at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Kisner is making his fifth start in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans this week, with a T28 in his last start of 2015 his best showing. Brown has made three previous starts at TPC Louisiana, with a T36 also in 2015 his best showing.
Earlier this year, Brown and Kisner agreed to serve as honorary co-chairs for the First Tee of Aiken’s capital campaign, as it pertains to the building of a new home on the University of South Carolina Aiken campus
Charley Hoffman/Nick Watney (-15)
Following three birdies on their first eight holes, Charley Hoffman and Nick Watney played the ensuing nine holes in 1-over par. The team birdied the par-5 18th hole to post a 2-under 70 and move to 15-under 201. The team’s one bogey came at the par-4 15th hole.
Through 54 holes, Hoffman and Watney are 12-under-par on the 12 par-5 holes played.
Including his first TOUR title in New Orleans in 2007, Watney has a total of five career PGA TOUR titles. Hoffman is a four-time winner on TOUR. His best showing in 10 starts in New Orleans is a T5 in 2014.
After making five starts in 2015-16 season before suffering an injury, Watney is playing on a Major Medical Extension this season, with 21 available events to earn 355 FedExCup points or $528,010 to remain exempt for the rest of the season. Watney has played 10 events this season, earning 196 FedExCup points and $390,876. His best finish this season is T14 – three times, at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, The Honda Classic and the Valspar Championship.
Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer (-14)
After 6-under 66s in rounds one and two, 2015 FedExCup champion Jordan Spieth, paired with fellow Texan and three-time TOUR winner Ryan Palmer, posted a 2-under 70 in round three. The duo made four birdies and two bogeys (par-5 2nd hole, par-4 13th hole).
After Palmer left Spieth with a 4’ 2” putt at the par-5 home hole, a Spieth miss resulted in par and 70 for the round.
In nine starts this season, Spieth has finished inside the top 10 four times. Palmer has also made nine starts this season. Palmer came to New Orleans in good form with a T11 at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head two weeks ago and a T6 last week at the Valero Texas Open.
Spieth is making his second appearance at the Zurich Classic after missing the cut in 2013. Palmer’s lone top-10 in eight appearances in New Orleans is T4 in 2012.
Palmer’s most recent of three PGA TOUR wins was the 2010 Sony Open in Hawaii. He has advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs nine times in 10 seasons.
The Zurich Classic is the penultimate PGA TOUR event for players, not previously eligible, to earn a start in THE PLAYERS in one of three ways: 1) moving into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking; 2) winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans; and 3) moving into the top 10 in the 2016-17 FedExCup standings.
Ten past Zurich Classic champions made starts this week (bold). Here’s how they stand after 54 holes: Brian Stuard/Chris Stroud (2016)/-13, Jason Dufner/Patton Kizzire (2012)/-10, Bubba Watson/J.B. Holmes (2011)/-11, Jerry Kelly/Steve Stricker (2009)/-10, Nick Watney/Charley Hoffman (2007)/-15, K.J. Choi/Charlie Wi (2002)/-9, Jason Bohn/Carl Pettersson (2010)/MC, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (2015)/MC, Seung-Yul Noh/Byeong Hun An (2014)/ MC and Billy Horschel/Matt Every (2013)/MC.
Here’s a look at how teams with players with local connections stand after 54 holes:
Former University High golfer Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay (-11)
Former Tulane golfer Michael Thompson/Tim Wilkinson (-11)
Former LSU golfers John Peterson/Andrew Loupe (MDF)
Former LSU golfer Smylie Kaufman/Harold Varner III (MC)
Gulf States Section PGA golf professional Kyle Ramey/Phil Schmitt (MC)
R1: Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer (66), Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith (67)
R2: 39 teams led by Retief Goosen/Tyrone Van Aswegen (60)
R3: Jonas Blixt/Cameron Smith (68), Bubba Watson/J.B. Holmes (68)
Scoring Averages: Front Back Total Cumulative