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Betting Analysis

Zurich Classic 2021 picks: Why would you bet against one of the best teams?


Cliff Hawkins

This week is a bit of a dart throw. Sure, we had a favorite win with Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer winning the last edition of this (2019). But in prior playings, we had Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt, who were 100-1 longshots when they won, and Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy, who were about 35-1, so not exactly the big-time pairings.

The unpredictable format is why most of our experts are fading one of the favorites in lieu of some better value elsewhere. Our anonymous tour caddie and data scientist Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com are fading Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff and three of our experts are fading Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, who have the second-best odds to win. In fourball, it's tough to predict which team gets off to a hot start—there are 80 teams and most of them are getting capable of getting red hot over a couple rounds, which is all you need.

A dangerous game, sure—but you have to take stands in gambling and trust your process. The processes of our betting handicappers have been stellar of late, netting in five outright predictions in the past 11 weeks. If you bet on golf, you know how tough that is to do.

Here are our experts’ picks for the 2021 Zurich Classic.

Zurich Classic 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from William Hill)

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Tony Finau and Cameron Champ (18-1) — This is the perfect format for Finau—keep it loose and have fun with a good teammate who matches his skill set. They’ve partnered together before and call themselves “Team Send It.” Distance is their game, and it can bring down TPC Louisiana.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Harold Varner III and Branden Grace (25-1) — In this crapshoot of a tournament, lets roll with two guys who’ve excelled at Pete Dye courses over time, coming off excellent iron weeks like Heritage.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (8-1) — Sure, the odds are short, but so is the field. My win simulation model thinks this number is just right for a duo that has a ton of statistical overlap (they’re the most similar duo in the field, per my similarity scores) and drive it alike, too. They are two of the three best players over the past year in the field (with Jon Rahm), they are 2019 Presidents Cup teammates, and they are two of the most consistent golfers in the world, as well. You can’t make a much better pairing than Schauffele and Cantlay.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Max Homa and Talor Gooch (33-1) — This team checks off a lot of boxes when it comes to the attributes for success in a team match. Combined, they make a ton of birdies. When you combine the teammate averages for the past 50 rounds at RickRunGood.com, they rank eighth in birdies per round. Using the same criteria, they rank 10th in SG/total and are one of the few teams to gain strokes in all four major strokes-gained categories. Finally, they are actually friends off the course, so this will be a super comfortable pairing around TPC Louisiana.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff (16-1) — I’ve talked myself into this one. I know Matt Wolff hasn’t been himself recently, but who better to bring out the best in him than his buddy Morikawa? TPC Louisiana’s greens are not tough to putt—Morikawa and Wolff can go super low, and I think they’ll just embrace the team aspect and take it deep.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown (50-1) — Since this event went to the team format, these two have paired together all three times and gone runner-up, T-15 and T-5. The BFFs from Aiken, S.C. are bound to win this thing sooner or later, and at 50-1 you pretty much have to take them.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Billy Horschel and Sam Burns (22-1) — When a course plays as easy as TPC Louisiana, it is likely to turn into a putting contest. If it does, you have two of the best Bermuda putters on this team: Burns is first in strokes gained/putting on Bermuda in the past 100 rounds, per FantasyNational.com, and Horschel is ninth. Burns also gives himself a lot of birdie chances, ranking eighth for Opportunities Gained over the past two months. and Horschel finished winner/runner-up in the past two WGCs, so I like this team’s chances.

Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel is RED-HOT. Our experts have now predicted five of the past 11 winners—after going up 225.30 units last season. As we’ve said, our crew gets hot and tends to stay hot, so don’t miss out on our picks! Our Stephen Hennessey predicted Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open. At The Players, Christopher Powers called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1) as did Rick Gehman. That’s each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday three events ago at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. And Brandon Gdula also called Berger’s win at Pebble Beach. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!

Zurich Classic 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (Odds from William Hill)

Caddie: Jason Kokrak and Pat Perez (40-1) — This is a team with great chemistry and with each birdie will feed off each other. Kokrak’s a much improved putter who can get red hot with the irons—and his distance should be a factor at TPC Louisiana.

Mayo: Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings (100-1) — One thing unique to TPC Louisiana is the daunting length of the par 3s. All four measure over 200 yards. Fantasy National reveals that both players are among the best in the field both short and long term on holes from this length. It may not reveal itself in the best ball portion, but in the alternate shot, it could be quite valuable. Don’t forget that Stallings was tied for the 54-hole co-lead in 2019 with Trey Mullinax, and now he’s upgraded his partner.

Gdula: Matthew NeSmith and Chase Seiffert (80-1) — This duo ranks sixth in the field in average SG/approach over the past 100 rounds on tour, via FantasyNational, and they have a similar skil set and very similar driving stats. They shouldn’t be playing out of sorts when playing alternate shot.

Gehman: Matthew NeSmith and Chase Seiffert (80-1) — These two could be dangerous in this format. NeSmith offers elite approach play, as he’s currently ranked seventh on the PGA Tour. Seiffert is more well-rounded, gaining strokes in three of the four major strokes-gained categories. Seiffert has made five cuts in a row, including a T-3 at the Honda Classic. Combining a solid golfer with a partner who possesses an elite skill-set is a dangerous combination if they can get hot.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Andrew Landry and Austin Cook (125-1) — I wouldn’t say I’ve become reliant on the great data over at FantasyNational.com, but the ability to customize your own models is phenomenal based on the stat categories you choose...it’s tough to ignore. But in the Zurich Classic format, there are intangibles. The stats don’t tell you that Landry and Cook are good buddies—fellow University of Arkansas alums—who play a lot of golf together. Plus, they’re both capable of low rounds.

Powers, Golf Digest: Scott Piercy and Akshay Bhatia (125-1) — If there was ever a week to throw a bunch of darts at the bottom of the board, it’s Zurich week, the ultimate crapshoot. Piercy won this event with Billy Horschel a few years back but is partnering up with future stud Bhatia this year. Akshay has popped on a number of leader boards this season, but hasn’t been able to string together four great rounds to seriously contend. This week, with a solid partner, you don’t need to be perfect over all four days. Piercy is as solid a partner as they come in this format with the way he hits his irons. Love this veteran/young gun duo.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Matthew NeSmith and Chase Seiffert (80-1) — NeSmith comes into this event ranked 17th in SG/tee to green over the past two months, and Seiffert is 19th—so these guys are both playing great golf right now. They’re both motivated to earn their first PGA Tour victory and secure the ultimate job security—a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.

Zurich Classic 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff (16-1) — I’m not good with fading Collin Morikawa, but I just don’t like what I’ve seen from Wolff in the new year. He got red hot in spurts—and often—at the end of 2020, but we just haven’t seen that in months.

Mayo: Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (8-1) — Cantlay is playing sneaky awful at the moment, and big favorites in a wonky team event with a lot of variance probably isn’t the proper path for your money.

Gdula: Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson (30-1) — Rose’s form is trending up, but Stenson remains very problematic and has some of the worst adjusted form in this field over the past year. That’s a tall ask for a team at 30/1.

Gehman: Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff (16-1) — The short term hasn’t been kind to this team, especially from the Wolff side. Let me try to put this into perspective using the combined team averages available on RickRunGood.com. If you run the model for each golfer’s past 75 rounds, Wolff and Morikawa are the fourth-best team in terms of SG/total. However, using more recent data over the past 20 rounds, they drop all the way to 10th, and that’s with Morikawa playing awesome. Wolff has failed to crack the top 25 in any of his past five starts and might get exposed in this format.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (8-1) — Cantlay’s been prone to the big number lately, and that can really set a team back in this format. Xander can go low but he’s also capable of a few bogeys. This price is just too low with how inconsistent Cantlay’s been in the past month.

Powers, Golf Digest: Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson (30-1) — Rose’s Masters performance was very similar to his U.S. Open performance at Pebble Beach, where he relied on short game for three days but couldn’t sustain it for a fourth. That tells you the ball-striking isn’t fully back yet. Combine that with Stenson’s poor form and this is not a team you can trust in an event that includes alternate shot.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (8-1) — This is too low a price in an event that involves a lot of luck. Cantlay ranks a mere 62nd in SG/tee to green over the past months, and Schaufelle is a mere 36th. (Not counting Masters data, though Cantlay’s would not be good.)

Zurich Classic 2021 picks: Matchups

Caddie: Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura (-115) over Dylan Frittelli and Kevin Streelman — This is just a talent play. Hovland will bring the best out of Ventura, and Hovland’s one of the five-seven best players in this field. Frittelli and Streelman can get hot—but they’re both just as likely to have an even-par round, whereas the other duo has way more upside.

Mayo: Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman (-137) over Tyrrell Hatton and Danny Willett (DraftKings) — Smith and Leishman are both striking the irons well, and their combined poor off the tee game means less at TPC Louisiana than almost any other course. Plus, both are excellent scramblers, which should help them immensely in alternate shot.

Gdula: Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler (-108) over Tony Finau and Cameron Champ (FanDuel) — Scheffler has been just about as good as Finau over the past year. The difference, then, would be Watson—a former winner at TPC Louisiana—against Champ, who has had a lukewarm past year overall.

Gehman: Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler (-108) over Tony Finau and Cameron Champ (FanDuel) — The playing styles of Watson and Scheffler seem ideal for a format like this. They are both capable of getting lightning hot and piling up birdies in a hurry. We’ve seen Watson make a deep run in the Match Play event recently and both played well at the Masters. The Finau/Champ dynamic concerns me and their playing styles might be too similar. It’s also scary when the best putter on your team is Tony Finau.

Hennessey: Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer (-115) over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay (PointsBet) — Rahm and Palmer are perfect in this format, as evidenced by their win last year. And they’re both playing great golf—with Rahm ranking first in this field in SG/total and Palmer 19th over the past 36 rounds, per FantasyNational.com. Palmer’s also 12th in birdies or better percentage and Rahm’s eighth. You can read why I’m fading Xander and Cantlay above.

Powers: Tyrrell Hatton and Danny Willett (+105) over Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith (DraftKings) — As much as I love the Aussies and respect how they are playing right now, I’m going to play the Ryder Cup card here. Willett would love to make a push for the team and Hatton, who is likely already a lock to make the team, would love to be part of the reason Willett gets into that mix. Can see them inspiring each other in a big way, and, plus, they’ve both played some solid golf of late.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson (-160) over Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele (Betfair) — As you can see above, I really love Rose’s and Stenson’s course fit—and over four rounds their consistency should beat out the occasional flashes of brilliance of Bradley and Steele.

Matchup results from the RBC Heritage: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Charley Hoffman (+100) over Kevin Kisner); Powers: 1 for 1 (Webb Simpson (-102) over Dustin Johnson); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Brian Harman (-111) over Will Zalatoris); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Chris Kirk (-120) over Kevin Streelman); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Collin Morikawa (-125) over Will Zalatoris); Gdula, Alldrick: 0 for 1.

Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Alldrick: 16-10-1 (up 4.77 units); Hennessey: 15-10-1 (up 3.83 units); Powers: 12-11-4 (up 0.24 units); Gdula: 14-13-0 (up 0.16 units); Mayo: 12-13-1 (down 1.75 units); Gehman: 9-16-2 (down 6.48 units); Caddie: 8-16-3 (down 7.25 units).

Zurich Classic 2021 picks: Top 10 (Odds from William Hill)

Caddie: Erik Van Rooyen and Wyndham Clark (+500) — This feels like a great mesh of skill sets—Wyndham Clark hits the ball a mile and get hot with the putter, whereas Erik Van Rooyen is consistent with his iron play. That’s the type of consistent tandem who should stay near the top of the leader board.

Mayo: Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown (+350) — The pair with the most team experience in the field has translated to success in this event. They’ve made the cut all three years in the team Zurich, with no finish worse than T-15 and two top-10 finishes.

Gdula: Max Homa and Talor Gooch (+250) — This team will have elite tee-to-green data, and they’re actually both pretty solid putters, so you can’t ask for a whole lot more than that. This team has a lot of balance, and neither golfer is bogging down the other.

Gehman: Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele (+275) — This is a team that is known for its ball-striking prowess—and their struggles with the flat stick. Even though each of them rank outside the top 130 on tour in putting, Steele has actually been a much better putter lately. Per the RickRunGood.com database, Steele has gained 10.58 strokes putting in his past three starts. If you combine that with Bradley’s tee-to-green game (eighth on tour), they might be able to make some magic this week.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Max Homa and Talor Gooch (+250) — This team should be so consistent in this format. As a combined team, per the great chart that @PGATout put on his Twitter page, Homa and Gooch have the third-best marks for SG/total and the second-best rank for Birdies or Better. They should absolutely be contending.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tony Finau and Cameron Champ (+150) — I know I said we should be throwing darts earlier, and you should absolutely be doing it for top 10 bets. Alternate shot on the final day could very quickly send a team from T-2 to T-20. Then again, it could also see a team vault, and this team seems like a prime candidate for that with their firepower.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson (+250) — Rose ranks first in strokes gained/total at TPC Louisiana and comes into this event off the back of his brilliant seventh-place finish at The Masters. Stenson also ranks first in SG/total at FanShare’s comp courses.

Top-10 results from the RBC Heritage: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Russell Henley (+450); everyone else: 0 for 1.

Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 6 for 24 (up 14.1 units); Gdula: 3 for 24 (down 5.5 units); Powers: 2 for 24 (down 7 units); Hennessey: 3 for 24 (down 9 units); Mayo: 2 for 24 (down 9 units); Tour caddie: 3 for 24 (down 11.45 units); Alldrick: 0 for 23 (down 23 units).

Zurich Classic 2021 picks: One and Done pick

Gehman: Billy Horschel and Sam Burns — There couldn’t be a better format than this for Burns and Horschel who are both notoriously streaky. That’s a good thing this week! They both possess massive upside —Burns has three top 10s this season and owns some of the best individual rounds we’ve seen this year. Horschel just won the WGC-Match Play and has won this event twice—as an individual and a team member. These are likely golfers you weren’t going to use in any other tournament so now is certainly the time.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson.

RBC Heritage: Daniel Berger.

Hennessey: Max Homa and Talor Gooch — For all the reasons I like them as a top-10 bet, I’d expect them to be consistent and near the top of the leader board. Plus, feels like a good spot to take Homa in a OAD format while he’s playing really well.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson.

Powers: Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner — Technically I’m picking Scott Brown here, I guess? Fine by me. You’re not going to believe this, but I don’t think I’ll need Scott Brown again this season.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Kevin Kisner.

By The Numbers:

Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:

25 The average winning score, under par, in the three years since the format change.

1.54 — The combined team average of strokes gained/per round by Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele in their past 50 rounds. That’s the best mark for any team in the field.

101 — The number of bunkers on Pete Dye’s TPC Louisiana, one of the more bunkered courses on TOUR.

$1,280,175 — The combined earnings for Ryan Palmer at this event since the format change. He won with Jon Rahm in 2019 and finished fourth with Jordan Spieth in 2017.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.