After a year off, the PGA Tour returns to TPC Louisiana on Thursday for the 2021 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. It is the fourth time the tour's only team event will be played, and Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer come in as the defending champions after winning the 2019 event by three strokes. They come into this week's event as the 15-2 favorites in William Hill Sportsbook's latest 2021 Zurich Classic odds, with Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay (8-1) and Cameron Smith/Marc Leishman (11-1) among the other teams expected to contend.
Experience and complementary skills pay off in team play, so are Rahm and Palmer the best bet for your 2021 Zurich Classic picks? Or would a friendly pairing like former college teammates Viktor Hovland and Kristoffer Ventura be more likely to pay off? Before making any 2021 Zurich Classic Fantasy golf picks, check out the latest Fantasy golf rankings from data scientist Rick Gehman.
With his expansive database of golf statistics, course data and betting odds, Gehman creates advanced models and back-tests them constantly. These models have produced 12 outright winners in the past 18 months -- including Webb Simpson at last year's RBC Heritage as a 30-1 long shot.
Just last week at Harbour Town, five of Gehman's top eight picks finished in the top 13, including Matthew Fitzpatrick and Corey Conners, who tied for fourth. Collin Morikawa and Simpson also made the top 10.
"He's truly found his form and will look to improve on his T-21 finish last year," Gehman told SportsLine in reference to Conners. The 29-year-old shot three rounds in the 60s to finish at 13 under par.
The previous week at the Masters, three of Gehman's top eight picks finished in the top five. That included Jordan Spieth and Schauffele, who tied for third.
Gehman has been on fire all season. At the Honda Classic, the field was limited by its placement between The Players and the Match Play, but Gehman still picked five in his top 10 who tied for 13th or better. At The Players, three of Gehman's top seven made the top 10, and at Pebble Beach, three of his top four had top-five finishes. Anyone who has followed his advice has cashed in huge.
Now, Gehman, co-host of "The First Cut" podcast on CBS Sports, has revealed his top 20 teams for the Zurich Classic 2021 over at SportsLine so you can crush your Fantasy golf lineups.
2021 Zurich Classic Fantasy golf picks
Gehman sees no reason that Rahm and Palmer won't be even better this time around. Rahm has surged to No. 3 in the world since the 2019 victory, and Palmer appears to be at the top of his game. Rahm has finished inside the top 10 eight times in 12 events this season, including a T-5 at the Masters after a slow start. Palmer tied for 34th at Augusta but shot 68 in his second round, and he was in the top 20 in his previous two events. The 44-year-old is solid across the board, and he has the skill set to provide Rahm a boost when it's needed.
On the other hand, Gehman is fading the team of Smith and Leishman. Neither is long or straight off the tee and they don't hit a lot of greens, so they will be under a lot of pressure on their putts. Leishman is 80th in greens in regulation (66.54 percent) while Smith is 81st (66.44), and Smith is 132nd in driving accuracy (58 percent) with Leishman 133rd (57.95). They are the third favorite at William Hill, but their games are too similar, and that typically isn't a recipe for success in this format.
How to set your 2021 Zurich Classic Fantasy golf lineups
Instead, Gehman is expecting a big week from a huge long-shot pairing that is listed at higher than 90-1. This team combines a player who is one of the best ball-strikers on tour with one who is a deft player around the greens. Gehman is only sharing who it is, and his top 20 teams in order, right here.
Who wins the Zurich Classic 2021? Who are the top teams to target? And which overlooked duo can help you win your league this week? Visit SportsLine now to get Rick Gehman's Fantasy golf rankings, all from the data scientist who's called 12 outright winners in the past 18 months.