Fri, 07 May 2021

There will be some duos trying to make an impression on US Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker when the US PGA Zurich Classic of New Orleans begins Thursday.

The pairs event, with 160 players in all, features a four-ball (best ball) format in the first and third rounds and a foursomes (alternate shot) format in the second and final rounds.

The field will be cut to the low 33 pairs and level after two rounds at TPC Louisiana.

It's a perfect chance for some US players to show Stricker how they mesh with other talent, knowing Stricker has six captain's choices to fill out the lineup for the September matches against Europe at Whistling Straits.

The six US points leaders in quest of automatic Ryder Cup spots include top-ranked Dustin Johnson, reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, PGA Championship winners Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and four-time major winner Brooks Koepka.

Fifth-ranked Schauffele is playing with a familiar Presidents Cup partner in 10th-ranked Patrick Cantlay as the event's highest-ranking duo looks ahead to the Ryder Cup against Europe on home soil.

"We have the Ryder Cup this year and Pat and I are good friends," Schauffele said. "We play almost every week at least once and we figured it was a bit of a no-brainer."

Cantlay, third at the 2019 PGA in his best major finish, would like the chance to reunite with Schauffele after they won twice in foursomes and lost twice in four-ball at the 2019 Presidents Cup in Australia.

"It should be great," Cantlay said.

"Like Xander said, we struck up a pretty good friendship at the Presidents Cup and played well too. So we figure we would play this week.

"It's the only team event other than those big team events at the end of the year, so it should be really fun and we're really looking forward to competing."

"We definitely feel like we could have been more successful, but we definitely meshed and clicked really well," Schauffele said.

"Our games matched up and our mentalities aligned and I think Stricker, he knows that I would love to play with Pat and vice versa.

"Yes, it's a Ryder Cup year, but I think it's more so Pat and I are buddies and we're definitely trying to win this golf tournament."

Ryder Cup qualifying will run through the BMW Championship in August. Among the leaders of those chasing a spot on points are major winners Patrick Reed and Webb Simpson and long-hitting Tony Finau.

"Every week is an opportunity to show the captain who you are, the state of your game and the state of your overall self in certain situations," Finau said.

"Who knows? You could be looking at a team that is representing the US in the Ryder Cup later this fall."

Finau is playing in New Orleans with Cameron Champ, helping develop a bond that could be on display again in September.

"I definitely think this week is going to be fun regardless of how we play," Champ said. "Whenever you can play golf stress-free with your partner it makes things a lot easier and obviously a lot more fun too."

Morikawa, who defends his title in next month's PGA Championship, makes his event debut alongside compatriot Matthew Wolff.

"Matt's an awesome guy. We feed off each other's energy," Morikawa said. "That's what's great. You got to have good chemistry out here and I think we really do."

Irish golfer Seamus Power withdrew after testing positive for Covid-19 and was replaced by Zack Sucher as the partner of Canada's David Hearn.

Source: News24

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