This week's Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana is intriguing, but it's also slightly more complex to handicap. Though there are fewer potential winners (80 teams are entered), there are more variables to consider when sifting through some of the numbers ahead of the first Zurich in nearly two years.
The golf is the golf in the end, though, and we probably should not overthink the team portion of this as if what Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson did together in Scotland in 2014 has any bearing on what they'll do in Louisiana in 2021. So I went back to the usual suspects when it comes to picks -- strokes gained in the last few months, tee-to-green play -- and pulled some bets I like for this weekend at TPC Louisiana.
All bets and data courtesy of William Hill.
1. Cameron Smith-Marc Leishman top 10 (+100)
This Australian duo should probably be the favorite this weekend in Louisiana based on how Smith is playing on his own. Smith carries a victory here (with Jonas Blixt), and Leishman is coming off a top-five finish at Augusta National. I worry a bit about the construction of some of their advanced data (Smith's short game has been off the planet), but I think most of that is mitigated by how confident both are coming in (unlike some of the other top contenders).
2. Doug Ghim-Justin Suh top 20 (+150)
Ghim ranks ninth in this field from tee to green over the last two months, and Suh has missed just one cut anywhere over the last 12 months. If you did a blind pedigree test, this team would be in the top five. While that's not exactly how the PGA Tour works, I think it will benefit two younger players to rekindle some of that collegiate magic they all talk about so fondly.
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3. Collin Morikawa-Matthew Wolff to win (16-1)
That's actually the same reason I have this duo winning at 16-1. Morikawa is playing the best golf of anyone in the field, and I believe Wolff's recent trials are mostly due to the mental stumbling block life as a young pro always throws at you. To put himself at the epicenter of a team event like this should recharge the former NCAA champ and give Morikawa a partner capable of helping him cruise to a win.
4. Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele top 20 (+120)
I considered going with Joseph Bramlett and Maverick McNealy in this space (because I wanted to root for them), but I think the smart play based on recent history is Bradley and Steele. They've both been hitting it pretty well over the last few months, and Bradley only has to count half (or so) of his putts (which is a good thing). They also have one of the few teams that nearly matches Data Golf's odds to William Hill's. Most others are much longer on Data Golf.
5. Max Homa-Talor Gooch over Viktor Hovland-Kristoffer Ventura (-118)
A lot of Oklahoma State interest here with Hovland and Ventura on that 2018 OSU team that won it all and Gooch on the 2011 team that probably should have. The reality here, though, is that Homa and Gooch have been striking it really well (combined +1.9 SG ball-striking over the last two months) and Hovland and Ventura have not (-0.4). Big advantage to Homa and Gooch, though you'll have to pay for it a bit.