Zurich Classic of New Orleans final round preview: Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay dominating

The American duo thrashed a brilliant third round of 60 to lead by five heading into the final day.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay went into this week hoping that the unusual format would kickstart their years and after 54 holes they are mighty close to getting just that.

Schauffele has landed just one top 10 since winning the gold medal and the Olympics last summer - and failed to make the weekend in three of his last four starts.

Cantlay hasn't won again since the Tour Championship in September and, although second last week in Harbour Town, he went four starts before then without making a top 20.

Cue fourball fun.

On Thursday they opened with a rollocking 13-under-par 59 and on the third round they were very close to a repeat with a 60.

No matter, the two birdies and one eagle on the front nine and eight back nine birdies were enough to open up what looks like a very strong lead heading into Sunday.

As we'll see, Billy Horschel, among a chasing back in a tie for third, was talking a good game, but the leaders increased their lead after his chat - his rhetoric might be out of date.

The South Africans Garrick Higgo and Branden Grace carded a 63 to be solo second on 24-under. Horschel and Sam Burns sit alongside Jason Day and Jason Scrivener, and Aaron Rai and David Lipsky, a further shot behind.

But this looks the Californian pair's to lose. Only a disaster in the foursomes format can hold them back it would seem.


Two of the previous winning combinations (Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt in 2017, and Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm in 2019) were tying the lead at this stage. A third (Marc Leishman and Smith last year) were one shot off the lead in a share of third.

Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy mounted quite the comeback in 2018 from tied ninth and three back.

They really something of a standout, however.

Because in 2017 Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner made a play-off from tied third after 54 holes, and last year Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel had been tying the lead ahead of the final round.

So, six pairings have ended 72 holes on top of the leaderboard - and five of them were tied third or better with one lap to play. Four were within one shot of the lead and five within three. It's bad news for the chasers.


Xander Schauffle and Patrick Cantlay (leading on 29-under)

Schauffele: "Our plan is to basically have as many birdie looks as possible. If you're not really in the hole, hit it up there close to free up your partner and let your partner get a good roll at it. He did a really good job of that on the back nine, and it bore some good fruit. We're going to try and do exactly what we did on Friday, which is sort of plot along, play our games, leave each other in good spots, and try and hole some putts. It's the third quarter. We finished a really good three quarters here and we have one more to go."

Cantlay: "It's a format like today you're just trying to birdie every single hole, and tomorrow will be more patient, solid, smart golf, and that's something we're both really good at, so we're looking forward to the challenge."

Garrick Higgo and Branden Grace (second on 24-under)

Grace: "He wasn't going to play, I wasn't going to play. It was my son's birthday today, so I was going to be home. But we thought, listen, let's go and play some golf, and hopefully we find something. We've both been playing, I want to say better than what the scores have been the last few months. It's great. We know each other well. I thought with him being a lefty, some of these holes would suit him really well and some of the other holes would suit me really well, the opposites. We've played well so far and we've had a really good time out there."

Higgo: "I think the last time I played foursomes would be 2017. So it's not that long ago, but it's a while. I've always enjoyed it and I think our games fit each other."

Sam Burns and Billy Horschel (tied third on 23-under)

Horschel: "Three-shot lead, you get a format like this and one guy is off, it's a struggle. It's a format that you can make up a lot of shots on. We've just got to go out and hopefully play the best 18 holes round of golf that we have all week, and hopefully from there that gives us a chance, and the guys up top sort of struggle a little bit. The wind is supposed to blow even harder tomorrow, that's even more conducive to having a chance to make up those three shots a little bit easier."

Jason Day and Jason Scrivener (tied third on 23-under)

Day: "I haven't got the greatest FedExCup ranking right now so I have to play well, so there's that added factor to it. Then obviously Jason is a good player, plays on the European Tour, and I know that if we have a great week, obviously that could be life changing. We can't really get too far ahead of ourselves. We've just got to just stay as present as possible and just hit the shots when they come and just add them up at the end of the day tomorrow. If it happens, it happens, but if not, it is what it is. The guys that are leading right now, Patrick and Xander, they're playing some phenomenal golf, so they're going to be very difficult to catch and to pass tomorrow."

READ MORE: Where will the next European triumph in the Major Championships come from?

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