Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Cantlay and Schauffele ease to two-shot victory

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Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele turned their commanding five-shot overnight lead into a two-shot victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans after shooting an even-par 72 in Sunday's closing round of foursomes.

The American pair paved the way for their wire-to-wire victory with two brilliant displays in the fourballs. They carded a tournament-record 59 in round one and added a 60 in that format on Saturday. They were less spectacular in the foursomes but a Friday 68 kept them out in front and they were happy to keep the field at arm's distance on Sunday.

After six opening pars in the alternate shot format, an eagle at 7 thanks to a superb approach from Cantlay and a 7ft 11" putt from Schauffele kept them well clear of the field.

Bogeys at 9 and 10 suggested a slight wobble but the Californian duo hit back with birdie at 11 and coasted home, even taking six shots on the final hole. Their winning total of 29-under 259 was two clear of Sam Burns and Billy Horschel. It was a further three shots back to Doc Redman and Sam Ryder while six duos in the 80-team team event tied for fourth.

Duo delighted with victory

Cantlay said after the win: "It was a great week. Second time we've played this event, and we were looking forward to it since last year.

"We really always enjoy being with each other, both on and off the golf course, and we both played exceptional this week and had a great time doing it." On the keys to victory, he said: "Mid-range putts kept the momentum going, especially in best ball. It felt like whoever had the putt for birdie on that hole, especially if it was a makeable putt, we tended to make it. This week especially playing best ball two days, making putts is huge.

Schauffele added: "We've had a ton of fun off the course as well as on. I was personally and I think Pat was, as well, looking forward to coming back. "We've done so many team things together that we know we're capable of doing better than last year. So pretty happy with the turnout this week." Talking about how their friendship started, Cantlay said: "We played together in college, so we knew each other, and then really bonded at Presidents Cup. "Fred Couples, he's amazing as a captain, especially that week, and so him and Tiger basically decided that they were going to put us together through all our time and playing well and enjoying hanging out with each other, we just became fast friends."

Ryder Cup form proved ideal guide

Cantlay and Schauffele, as they touched upon, had shown their prowess in previous team events.

On day one of the 2021 Ryder Cup they teamed up to thrash Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter 5&3 in the opening foursomes and set the tone for the USA's record 19-9 victory.

Steve Stricker put them out again in Saturday's foursomes and they took down Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick 2&1. After their performances this week, it would make sense to give them a go at fourballs too. That said, in the 2019 Presidents Cup in Royal Melbourne, they won both foursomes but lost both fourballs.

Fate of the favourites

Cantlay and Schauffele were vying for favouritism at the start of the week with Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland.

But while the two Californians justified that tag, the American/Norwegian combo did not. Morikawa and Hovland just didn't make enough birdies in the fourballs and had to settle for tied 29th. Defending champions Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman were third best in the betting but again came up short in fourballs, ending the week tied 21st. Runners-up Horschel and Burns lived up to their billing as potential winners but new Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and partner Ryan Palmer had to be content with tied 18th.

The article Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Cantlay and Schauffele ease to two-shot victory appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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