Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Avondale, Louisiana
Winners: Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm

With Jordan Spieth taking the week off, Ryan Palmer found himself without a partner for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the only team event on the PGA Tour. And Jon Rahm’s partner, Wesley Brian, was having shoulder surgery. But not only was Rahm, at 24, nearly 20 years younger, he was from Spain, so Palmer thought it was unfair to ask him to team up with both an old fogey and a foreign language. “I shot him a text, hoping he wouldn’t bite,” Palmer said. “But he accepted. And what an awesome week.”

They spent four rounds saying “Nice shot” and “Great birdie” to one another a lot, and by Sunday evening they had themselves a three-stroke victory over Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood. The Zurich, at the TPC Louisiana, near New Orleans, was played with the first and third rounds at better ball, and the second and fourth at alternate shot. Rahm and Palmer broke from a tie starting the final round and wrapped up a card of 64-65-64-69–262, 26 under.

Drenching rains delayed play in the first round for seven hours. Only about half of the 80 teams teed off in the first round, the rest being bumped into the next day. Rory Sabbatini and Brian Gay romped to the first-round lead on an 11-under 60. Among other highlights was the play of Peter Malnati and Billy Hurley, going 36 holes Friday. They shot 63 in the morning better- ball, then 67 in the alternate shot for a 14-under 130 that was leading as darkness halted play.

“It’s a long day,” Malnati said, “…maybe our 28th or 29th hole, my legs were tired. I know Billy and I both, most of the guys out here … are into our conditioning, but you’re not prepared to be walking for 10 hours or

Rahm and Palmer played 30 holes on Saturday, completing a second-round 65 in alternate shot and then posting a 64 in better ball in the third round. And a bogey was a key. Both watered their tee shots at the par-three 17th, and Palmer held the damage to a bogey with a seven-foot putt — their first bogey in 53 holes and first of only two for the tournament. Then Rahm dropped an 18-footer for birdie at 18 to tie Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax for the lead at 23 under. It was going to be quite a finish.

In the final round at alternate shot, Rahm’s chip set up Palmer’s birdie from a foot at No. 2, and they were in the lead for good. They took only their second bogey at No. 6 on Rahm’s drive into the rough. Then three birdies locked it up. Rahm holed a 13-foot putt at the 10th; Rahm hit his approach to three feet at the 13th and Palmer converted, and Palmer birdied from 11 feet at the 14th. It was Palmer’s fourth tour win but the first in almost 10 years.

“He’s got a special art,” Palmer said. Said Rahm, about next year: “I can say to Jordan and Wesley, ‘Sorry, we already have a partner.’”


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