The leading combinations at this week’s Zurich Classic: Which pairing can conquer the unique format?

TPC Louisiana host the fourth running of the PGA Tour’s only official pairs event and there are plenty of duos worth considering.

It's not often that the PGA Tour breaks far from the norm.

72-hole strokeplay rules the roost, individual match play gets one week a year, team match play (the Ryder and Presidents Cup) get another.

That's about it.

Four years ago the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, a geographically confusing title if ever there was one, decided to mix things up a little.

Gone was the strokeplay format it had used since 1938 and in came a pairs format, alternating foursomes and fourballs.

The latter version of the game is used in the first and third rounds - an opportunity for both player to complete the hole and gun for as many birdies as they can manage. Going low on those days matters.

Then in rounds two and four the foursomes sorts the wheat from the chaff: alternate shot, no picking up, no apologies, no howling errors thank you very much.

The winning totals have been 27-, 22- and 26-under-par, highlighting the need to pile on the birdies and also maintain some momentum in the foursomes.

With the exception of the second round of the 2018 event (which witnessed tough conditions), each winning team has gone sub-70 in every round - a solid combo is essential.

Let's take a closer look at the leaders in the betting.

Jon Rahm & Ryan Palmer

The defending champions.

They fired 64 in their two fourball rounds during their victory, but a 65 in the first foursome effort was key.

It also hints that the pair of them are a great fit both on the course and in the head.

Palmer has three top 20s in his last four starts and Rahm arrives off the back of consecutive top fives.

A big surprise if they don't have a good week.

Best price 15/2 with Bet365.

Xander Schauffele & Patrick Cantlay

The Major contenders

Both have finished top 20 in the event, but a first time out for the pairing and it's an intriguing one, on paper exceptional and potentially a Ryder Cup force.

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Both have excelled over the last three years, both have come close to winning Majors, but can they combine in something of a birdie-fest?

Schauffele contended all week at Augusta last time out, Cantlay has been dreadful in recent strokeplay but did make a lot of birdies at the WGC Dell Match Play.

Could be an awesome package, Cantlay a little off colour in recent times though.

Best price 8/1 with Bet365.

Cameron Smith & Marc Leishman

The Aussie mates.

Leishman was tied fifth at the Masters and Smith T10th - good omens maybe?

They've always got on, love the idea of being Aussies together, and Smith has already tasted victory in the event, winning the inaugural pairs version in 2017 with Swede Jonas Blixt.

Easy to see them ham and egging it with big smiles on their faces, having the time of their life.

Best price 12/1 with Bet365.

Scottie Scheffler & Bubba Watson

The good old boys.

Watson landed a top five finish in the first version of this event when it changed to pairs, but since then has struggled.

This time he gets a new combo with a fellow who might be as laid back as himself, which could be a great aid.

It could just as easily distract him.

Bubba's a tricky one to predict. Both made the top 30 last time out at the Masters.

Best price 14/1 with Bet365.

Collin Morikawa & Matthew Wolff

The young pretenders.

A really neat link up: the solid tee-to-green game of Morikawa with the unorthodox power of Wolff.

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A tournament debut for both and a tricky one to work out with regards to form.

Wolff's has been horrible for some time now, while Morikawa arrives fresh from a top 20 at Augusta and top 10 at Harbour Town, but he didn't putt well at the weekend bar a quick rush of birdies late in the third round.

Big potential, form concerns.

Best price 14/1 with Bet365.

Tony Finau & Cameron Champ

The easy riding big hitters.

So much to like about this team: both seem lovely, laid back characters, both send the ball huge distances without appearing to try too hard about it.

Finau was last seen finishing T10th at the Masters, a nice return to form after going off the boil following three consecutive runner-up finishes.

Champ was T26th at Augusta, a first top 30 finish in 2021.

A lot to like - they could freewheel this one very nicely.

Best price 16/1 with Bet365.

Danny Willett & Tyrrell Hatton

The English connection.

A first time for the combination and it makes a certain amount of sense.

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Both also made the cut last week at Harbour Town which bodes well.

It will be St George's Day midway through the tournament, which might prompt a bit of chat, as might the prospect of this one day being a Ryder Cup combo.

A good week would be no surprise.

Best price 25/1 with Bet365.

Justin Rose & Henrik Stenson

The Olympic combination.

Both, in their way, enjoyed a good week at Augusta National last time out.

Stenson's T38th might not look a good effort, but it was the first cut he had made since his first outing of the year. Rose was rather more obviously on fire, grabbing the first round lead and hanging around for top seven finish.

They'll enjoy the week, reminisce about the gold and silver medals, but contending looks beyond them.

Best price 33/1 with Bet365.


The Aussies can leave New Orleans dancing. Leishman has turned up to play with his mate Smith and they can repeat his success in the first renewal. Take them at 12/1 each way.

READ MORE: 150 days till the Ryder Cup: Are Team USA set for just a third victory in the 21st century?

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