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Zurich Classic DFS picks 2023: Did Joel Dahmen find a perfect partner?

April 18, 2023
NAPA, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Joel Dahmen of the United States smiles prior to the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort and Spa North course on September 14, 2022 in Napa, California. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

The Zurich Classic offers a unique format this week for tour players—and thus, for us DFS players, too. On the course, 80 teams of two will compete in four-ball and foursomes formats. On Thursday, the format will be four-ball, where each golfer plays their own ball and the best score for the team on each hole is recorded. This leads to absurdly low scores, and 59 is always in play.

On Friday, teams switch to the much more difficult foursomes format—also known as alternate shot. This is where trust and experience within the team plays a big role. After Friday’s play concludes, they will make a cut, with the top 33 teams and ties making the weekend. Saturday will be four-ball with Sunday concluding with foursomes.

For fantasy purposes, each golfer will be listed in the player pool, but you will not be able to draft two players from the same team. No matter who does the actual scoring, both players on the team will be treated identically. They will both earn the same number of fantasy points without regard for their actual individual contributions.

Here are the players who have my interest—and those who certainly don’t—this week at the 2023 Zurich Classic.

Golfers I'm Definitely Playing

Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele ($11,100 DraftKings)

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Cliff Hawkins

It’s hard to ignore these two resumes. They are, individually, the two best players in the field. When they play together, they turn into superheroes. Over the past 36 rounds, they combine to average gaining 1.87 strokes on the field per round—the best mark in the field, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. They have been dominant together in international play and are the defending champions at this event.

David Lipsky & Aaron Rai ($9,000 DraftKings)

These two will try to rekindle the magic from partnering together last year to finish T-4. Lipsky hasn’t played as well in 2023, but he’s been striking it well. Rai, on the other hand, has been playing great golf—gaining strokes from tee-to-green in 12 of his past 13 starts. Admittedly, I do worry about who will actually drain the putts on this team, but hopefully they’ll give themselves enough chances to make it happen.

Joel Dahmen & Denny McCarthy ($8,900 DraftKings)

If you combined these two golfers skill-sets into one, you’d have one stout competitor. Dahmen can provide the tee-to-green muscle while McCarthy is the best putter on tour. If they can stay “on script” with Dahmen hitting the approaches and McCarthy rolling the rock, they could be formidable. If they get “off script”—they will be going home early.

Thorbjorn Olesen & Nicolai Hojgaard ($7,900 DraftKings)

This team is full of firepower! Olesen was a winner two starts ago on the DP World Tour in Thailand. That was his fifth consecutive top 20 globally, with three straight top-six finishes. Hojgaard has been on quite the run himself, earning five top-15 finishes in his past eight starts—highlighted by a runner-up finish at the Corales Puntacana Championship.

Byeong Hun An & S.H. Kim ($7,100 DraftKings)

Since the start of 2023, An has been a positive putter, gaining 0.13 strokes per round to the field. That’s a massive improvement over any other period in his career, where he was one of the worst on tour with the flatstick. Now he partners with a well-rounded Kim who can get hot in a moment's notice. An should have some good vibes here, too—he had his best-ever PGA Tour finish in 2016, losing in a playoff to Brian Stuard while playing on an exemption.

Golfers I Might Play

Wyndham Clark & Beau Hossler ($9,400 DraftKings)

This will be the first time these two have partnered up at the Zurich Classic, but neither are strangers to the format. Clark has played it three times, and Hossler has played it twice. These two have such great complementary skill-sets with Clark handling the long game, and Hossler handling the short game. They will need to stay “on script” this week, but if they do, they’ll be able to make quite a bit of noise.

Kurt Kitayama & Taylor Montgomery ($9,100 DraftKings)

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Andrew Redington

Here’s a pair of Las Vegas guys who are very comfortable with one another. Kitayama was a winner at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and made a deep run into the Elite Eight at the Match Play. Montgomery has a valuable skill-set in this format—he hits it far and he can putt. That could make this team quite dangerous.

Matt Fitzpatrick & Alex Fitzpatrick ($8,200 DraftKings)

Trust in your teammate will be key this week, and there isn’t a deeper bond than these two brothers. Obviously Fitzpatrick is a world-class golfer who won last week and looks healthy again for the first time in 2023. Alex has been looking to earn status anywhere in the world, but he’s played well when given opportunities. His last four official OWGR events have resulted in three top-25 finishes, including a T-9 on the Challenge Tour in his last start.

Sam Saunders & Eric Cole ($7,000 DraftKings)

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Mike Mulholland

These two have a relationship that goes back to childhood, and they both appear to be finding form at the right time. Cole’s successes are well-documented after a runner-up finish at the Honda Classic and a T-27 at The Players. Saunders doesn’t have the same level of status but finished fifth on the Korn Ferry Tour last week and has two top-five finishes in his past four starts.

Michael Kim & S.Y. Noh ($6,800 DraftKings)

This range of pricing is difficult with few teams playing remotely close to tour average golf. Kim has made four straight cuts with a T-26 in Puntacana and a fifth-place finish in Puerto Rico. Noh has started to level his game after an ugly missed cut at the Honda Classic. He played the same two events as Kim, making the cut in both. This is a risky team to back but might be the best amongst even worse peers.

Golfers I'm Fading

Sam Burns & Billy Horschel ($9,500 DraftKings)

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Andrew Redington

Burns is back to playing great golf but his partner … not so much. Horschel’s missed cut in Hilton Head last week means that his best stroke-play finish of 2023 is a T-32 at the Phoenix Open. He’s lost strokes to the field in eight of his 10 starts this calendar year, and he’s losing across the board. Maybe a different format is the spark that Horschel needs, or maybe he’s the weak link in a format that doesn’t allow for many mistakes.

Taylor Moore & Matthew NeSmith ($8,700 DraftKings)

I love everything that Moore has been doing, but I feel the exact opposite about NeSmith. His 2023 calendar year has been the worst stretch of golf in his career. He’s losing nearly a stroke per round to the field in 25 rounds which is about 1.3 strokes per round worse than his baseline. I’m hoping this week can provide a spark, but I’m not optimistic.

Sam Ryder & Doc Redman ($8,300 DraftKings)

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Tracy Wilcox

These two will need the magic from last year, where they finished third—especially on the Redman side of things. He’s played 13 events this season and has missed the cut nine times. His best finish is a T-16 at the Valspar Championship. He’s lost strokes from tee-to-green in 11 of his past 13 cementing him in this season-long slump.

Luke List & Henrik Norlander ($7,400 DraftKings)

I generally don’t care about putting but seriously—who is going to make a putt on this team?! They are statistically the worst putting team in the field, losing nearly a stroke per round together on the surfaces. Norlander’s last top 10 on the PGA Tour was in October 2021, while List’s came in January of 2022.

Austin Eckroat & Scott Harrington ($6,700 DraftKings)

Harrington has lost multiple strokes on approach on six different occasions this season and doesn’t have a top 25 to show for his efforts. Eckroat popped in Puntacana, finishing fifth but has missed seven of his last eight cuts in that same stretch. These are two golfers who don’t have much going for them right now.

Rick Gehman, 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.