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PGA Tour event breaks new ground after switching to two-man team format

All of a sudden, we’re interested in the Zurich Classic.

Rickie Fowler and Jason Day will team up next year.
Rickie Fowler and Jason Day will team up next year.
Image: Lynne Sladky

RIO OLYMPIC CHAMPION Justin Rose and runner-up Henrik Stenson will partner for next year’s US PGA Zurich Classic of New Orleans, which yesterday announced it will switch to a two-man team format starting next year.

The event has been won in the past by such stars as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Watson, Byron Nelson, Lee Westwood, K.J. Choi, Vijay Singh and Rose in 2015.

“The Zurich Classic is already a special tournament for me,” Rose said. “The addition of a team format adds a new, incredibly exciting element to the event. Henrik and I are very excited to tee it up together in April, and hopefully we can continue our longstanding chemistry and success in team formats.”

Both have been stalwarts for Europe in the Ryder Cup and their exciting last-day duel for gold in August electrified the first Olympic men’s golf competition since 1904.

The US PGA Tour policy board changed the event format to two rounds of foursomes and two of four-ball starting with the 2017 edition of the tournament, set for 27-30 April at TPC Louisiana in New Orleans.

Among the duos to defeat will be the Rose-Stenson pairing and world number one Jason Day of Australia teaming with US star Rickie Fowler.

“I’ve loved being a part of team events throughout my amateur, collegiate and now professional career,” said Fowler. “I’m so excited that the tour and Zurich are making this part of our schedule and can’t wait to tee it up with Jason in April.”

American Brian Stuard defeated compatriot Jamie Lovemark and South Korean An Byeong-Hun in a playoff last May for the final solo title.

The new 72-hole stroke-play format will feature foursomes (alternate shot) in the first and third rounds and four-ball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds.

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A field of 80 teams will be cut to the low 35 pairs and ties after two rounds. A sudden-death four-ball playoff will be used as a playoff to decide the champions.

© AFP 2016

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