Zurich Classic preview: Rickie Fowler-Jason Day partnership headlines new team format

Sporting News
A number of top players have decided to play this week in an attempt to sharpen their games ahead of the U.S. Open.

FedEx St. Jude Classic field intrigues as final U.S. Open tune-up

A number of top players have decided to play this week in an attempt to sharpen their games ahead of the U.S. Open.

This week's Zurich Classic may not seem like a regular PGA Tour event, mainly because it's not.

Stroke play has been thrown out the window, and in its place, the Zurich Classic will be a Ryder Cup-like team event with 80 pairs competing against each other.

Many are excited about the change, especially considering this event usually boasts one of the weaker fields all season. That is not the case this year.

Where is the Zurich Classic played?

TPC Louisiana, a massive 7,425-yard par 72 that will present a challenge to teams that lack a long hitter.

As if the course wasn't already difficult enough, designer Pete Dye and consultant Steve Elkington added more than 100 bunkers and five ponds, while winding through acres of Louisiana wetlands among cypress and oak trees, to increase the course's challenge.

Making sense of the new format

The new 72-hole stroke play format will feature foursomes (alternate shot) during the first and third rounds and four-ball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds.

The starting field will consist of 80 teams (160 players). Following the conclusion of the second round, there will be a cut to the low 35 teams and ties at the 35th position.

Despite the new format, the event will continue to award FedEx Cup points and official money, and will count as an official victory for the members of the winning team. Which means, both players will receive a two-year exemption with a win.

However, the event will not award world ranking points.

Top teams to watch

Jason Day and Rickie Fowler announced their partnership a while ago, and the buzz surrounding this super pairing has continued to grow. Fowler has enjoyed a steady season that included a win at the Honda Classic. Day has unfortunately been quiet while battling through family issues at home.

European Ryder Cup power duo Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose rarely miss an opportunity to play alongside one another. The gold and silver medalists from the Rio Olympics will be partnered together, and should have no problem cruising to the top of the leaderboard.

Watch out for brothers Brooks and Chase Koepka. Brooks just finished runner-up at last week's Texas Open, and Chase has been making his way in Europe. They should be comfortable alongside one another, ready to make an abundant amount of birdies.

Other notable paitings

Jordan Spieth-Ryan Palmer

Daniel Berger-Thomas Pieters

Hideki Matsuyama-Hideto Tanihara

Bubba Watson-J.B. Holmes

Justin Thomas-Bud Cauley

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