Zurich Classic picks 2023: Back this first-time Zurich duo
The poor Zurich Classic of New Orleans has not one, but two impossible acts to follow in the Masters and the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town. What’s supposed to be a different and fun team format now feels like the let down of all let downs, by no fault of its own.
That said, you can still seriously jazz this week up by betting a few dollars on an outcome you may like. Ahh, the beauty of gambling. Gambling could make watching paint dry fun, and we promise a little two-man team golf is a LOT more fun than watching paint dry.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 Zurich Classic.
Zurich Classic picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Nick Taylor/Adam Hadwin (34-1, FanDuel Sportsbook) — The games of these Canadians complement each other—they’re both good ball-strikers, though not long off the tee, and they both can really fill up the cup. Sure, they’ll have more middle-irons than other teams here, but they’re both used to hitting them—and they’re two buddies, which we know has worked for others in this format.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Keith Mitchell/Sungjae Im (13-1, FanDuel) — Only the groups of Cantlay/Schauffele and Homa/Morikawa have better average strokes-gained numbers in recent rounds than Mitchell and Im. They should hit a lot of fairways and be a balanced team, as both are top 50 in the world rankings and top 20 in tee-to-green play over the past 50 rounds, via datagolf.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (+300, DraftKings) — What else am I supposed to do? They are, by far, the best team in this field. They are individually playing exquisite golf and they turn into world-beaters when they partner up. Over the last 36 rounds, they are averaging +1.87 strokes-gained per round – the best in the field per the RickRunGood.com golf database. They have three top-10 finishes in their last four trips to the event, including a victory last year. It feels incredibly likely that they are in contention on Sunday and, if they are in contention, I’ll take my chances.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Thorbjorn Olesen/Nicolai Hojgaard (45-1, PointsBet) — This dynamic Danish duo is one of my favorites here, and this number keeps getting slashed as bettors catch on. Hojgaard finished runner-up at the Corales two starts ago and kept up his scorching hot iron play at the Valero the following week (T-28). Olesen has plenty of experience playing in the U.S., dating back to 2013, earning a special temporary membership after a sixth-place finish at Augusta. The 33-year-old just won on the DP World Tour, and he’s out to prove he’s still got game.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Sam Burns/Billy Horschel (18-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Yes, Billy Ho has been downright awful of late, like comically awful. You know what he could really use right now? A world-class teammate like Sam Burns, and a venue he loves in TPC Louisiana. If those two things can’t snap him out of a funk, nothing can.
Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Keith Mitchell/Sungjae Im (13-1, FanDuel) — While Im and Mitchell have never played this event together before, they’re both well-acquainted with TPC Louisiana and fit this course ideally from a numbers standpoint. Im is coming off a seventh-place finish at the Heritage, where he gained 4.8 strokes off the tee and 2.5 strokes on approach, good for his sixth top-25 finish in a row. Mitchell, meanwhile, may not have the pedigree of Im, but he is a player I have been high on all season. The UGA product remains one of the best drivers of the ball in this entire field, and he also ranks top 15 in both opportunities gained and birdies-or-better gained. Both players combine to rank as the third-most formidable duo in my team rankings and present a fair amount of value in the outright market.
Past results: The panel had gone a bit cold since Christopher Powers hit on Chris Kirk at 30-1 to win the Honda Classic, but that changed at the first major of the year. Both Brandon Gdula and Andy Lack correctly predicted Jon Rahm’s Masters win at +950, giving Gdula a panel-leading three on the year (Scottie Scheffler 13-1 at WMPO, Tony Finau 16-1 at the Houston Open) and Lack his first as a member of the Golf Digest expert picks column. Everybody clap it up for Andy. That gives us five outright winners as a squad this season, and we plan to make it six at Harbour Town.
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Zurich Classic picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Ben Martin/Chesson Hadley (75-1, FanDuel Sportsbook) — This format can really reward hot putters, and Chesson’s putter can heat up with the best of ‘em. I like the fact he’s playing with Ben Martin, who has had a really consistent season, so Hadley can be aggressive without fear.
Gdula: Joseph Bramlett/Brandon Wu (70-1, FanDuel) — These two need to figure out the putting, but if they do, they could make a run. They’re 14th in average SG/tee-to-green over the past 50 rounds, and both are top 40 in ball-striking specifically.
Gehman: Aaron Rai/David Lipsky (70-1, FanDuel) — If you’re a supporter of #TeamNoPutt, here’s your squad! Neither can roll the rock but having a partner might remove some of that putting pressure that they deal with on a regular basis. Rai has been phenomenal, gaining strokes from tee-to-green in seven straight starts despite not being able to put all four rounds together. These two partnered last year and finished T-4 so there’s plenty of comfort and upside.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Victor Perez and Thomas Detry (55-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — This European duo is going under the radar this week, but these two could very well be Ryder Cup teammates in a few months. I like both their games for this course—plenty of length with decent wedge play. I believe oddsmakers aren't properly valuing these players’ longer-term resumes here.
Powers, Golf Digest: Robby Shelton/Lee Hodges (55-1, FanDuel) — This duo is my lock of all locks to be the first-round leaders, but I kind of like them to contend for all 72 holes, too. Shelton top-15’d in his most recent start at Valero, gaining strokes on approach for the seventh time in his last eight starts, while Hodges has three finishes of 18th or better in his last seven. These two haven’t been able to get it done on their own just yet, but they could absolutely threaten as a squad.
Lack: Davis Riley/Nick Hardy (55-1, PointsBet) — Riley and Hardy are a new duo this year, but both players fared incredibly well at this event last year, with Riley finishing fourth alongside Will Zalatoris and Hardy finishing 21st alongside Curtis Thompson. They’ve both elevated their games since then and now enter as a worthy duo at an appetizing price. My numbers suggest that the tandem are the fourth-most formidable pairing in this field and course fit for TPC Louisiana. Riley is one of the best in the field at generating birdie opportunities and a worthy long-iron player as well. Hardy is also an excellent long-iron player, has plenty of pop off the tee and is one of the biggest risers in easier scoring conditions. Ultimately, I believe this team presents the most value in the entire field, and I will gladly take my chances on a breakthrough performance from two young talents.
Zurich Classic picks 2023: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Sam Burns/Billy Horschel (14-1, DraftKings Sportsbook) — It hasn’t been pretty with Billy lately. Good on Burns to honor his commitment here, but the Louisiana native would be one of the true contenders to win this if he had a halfway decent partner coming into the week. Billy loves the format and loves this course, but from everything I hear, his game isn’t in a good place.
Gdula: Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele (+290, FanDuel) — The +290 odds are tough for a tournament winner no matter the circumstances. My simulation model has them at +350, so it’s just not worth it at that number.
Gehman: Sam Burns/Billy Horschel (14-1, DraftKings) — There’s not much concern about Burns but Horschel’s form is as bad as we’ve seen in quite some time. He’s played ten times in 2023, losing strokes to the field in eight of those starts. His best result was a T-32 in Phoenix and he’s losing strokes in nearly every category. This format will require a ton of birdies in four-ball and a ton of trust in foursomes. If Horschel is going sideways, it will be tough to overcome.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Collin Morikawa/Max Homa (+650, Caesars Sportsbook) — I love Homa’s putter in this format, but Morikawa? Not so much. Plus, Homa’s off-the-tee game has been really bad through the Masters (his worst stretch since 2020, per RickRunGood.com), so I think this is a team to stay away from.
Powers, Golf Digest: Wyndham Clark/Beau Hossler (22-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — I adore these two when there are three-digit odds next to their names. 22-1? Even as a team that can make a ton of birdies, I simply can’t get there.
Lack: Sahith Theegala/Justin Suh (22-1, BetMGM) — I have nothing against this young duo with considerable talent, but I wanted to pick a pairing close to the top of the board with a price that was slightly over-inflated by my numbers. Theegala and Suh are teaming up for the first time, and Theegala missed the cut last year, while this will be Suh’s first performance at TPC Louisiana. The combination of the lack of playing experience between the tandem, the lack of course history, and a steep price based more on expectations than results have me feeling lukewarm about this team.
Zurich Classic picks 2023: Matchups
Caddie: Sungjae Im/Keith Mitchell (-128) over Sam Burns/Billy Horschel (FanDuel) — Sungjae and Mitchell are an odd duo, but they are two flushers whose games should suit this course nicely. I’ve talked about why Burns might have a rough week with his usual partner here above.
Gdula: Tom Kim/Si Woo Kim (-122) over Sahith Theegala/Justin Suh (FanDuel) — The tee-to-green advantage easily belongs to Kim and Kim here, though the putting does favor Theegala and Suh. Tee-to-green stats are good stats for team events, so that’s where I’ll go in this matchup.
Gehman: Joel Dahmen/Denny McCarthy (-110) over J.J. Spaun/Hayden Buckley (Bet365) — The Dahmen/McCarthy team is one of the best complementary teams in the field. Dahmen is a valuable tee-to-green player who gives up a ton of strokes on the putting surface. McCarthy is one of the best putters on Earth. If they can stay on script this week, they will be a formidable duo.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Wyndham Clark/Beau Hossler (-104) over Taylor Montgomery/Kurt Kitayama — Montgomery and Kitayama are an attractive team from an outright perspective, but they also have a very low floor, which is what we’re looking for in a matchup bet. Montgomery has been inconsistent lately, and Kitayama is usually boom or bust. Meanwhile, Clark has gained strokes to the field in every event he’s played since the Zozo in the fall, while he’s paired with Hossler, who can get extremely hot with the putter.
Powers, Golf Digest: Nick Taylor/Adam Hadwin (-110) over Victor Perez/Thomas Detry (DraftKings) — Team Canada might actually be better known as Team Scottsdale, where Hadwin and Taylor both reside and we’d imagine play quite a bit together in the desert. They’ve also combined for six top 20s in 2023, while Detry has just one of those in an opposite-field event and Perez has only made one PGA Tour start this year.
Lack: Sam Burns/Billy Horschel (-130) over Taylor Montgomery/Kurt Kitayama (DraftKings) — This is simply a play to find action on the Horschel and Burns tandem, who I believe are a very serious contender this week. I’ll gladly roll with the experience in this spot, as Burns and Horschel are teaming up for the third time, and have never finished worse than fourth at this tournament as a pairing. Montgomery and Kitayama, while a talented pairing, present more questions and volatility than the stability and high floor that I am getting with Burns and Horschel.
Matchup Results from the RBC Heritage: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Kuchar (+130) over Lowry); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Woodland (-110) over Mitchell); Lack: 1 for 1 (Scheffler (-110) over Rahm); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Im (-120) over Finau); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Hatton (-118) over Lowry); Powers: 0 for 1 Mayo: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Gehman: 15-7-2 (up 6.84 units); Hennessey: 14-9-1 (up 4.02 units); Lack: 9-5-0 (up 3.28 units); Caddie: 12-11-1 (up 0.49 units); Powers: 11-12-1 (down 1.63 units); Mayo: 8-15-0 (down 7.51 units); Gdula: 9-14-1 (down 6.21 units)
Zurich Classic picks 2023: Top 10s
Caddie: Byeong Hun An/S.H. Kim (+340, DraftKings) — Benny will always love this place with a hunger for a little more success. He came so close here in 2016—and I saw how dialed he was around that time. It’s crazy to me he hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since then. His game is back to such a good place now, I know he believes this could be the place for him.
Gdula: J.J. Spaun/Hayden Buckley (+210, FanDuel) — Two top-75 golfers by OWGR (not a bad trend to have entering this one), Spaun and Buckley are each top 25 in SG/tee-to-green over the past 50 rounds. They’re just one of the best recent duos in the field but come at solid top-10 odds.
Gehman: Thorbjorn Olesen/Nicolai Hojgaard (+330, DraftKings) — Olesen hasn’t teed it up on the PGA Tour since the Scottish Open last summer, but he’s been stellar on the DP World Tour since then. He’s earned five straight top-20 finishes, including a win in Thailand. He’s gained a total of 39.76 strokes ball-striking during that run and he’s gained with the putter in three straight. Hojgaard can handle himself as well, finishing runner-up at the Corales Puntacana Championship and T-28 at the Texas Open in his last two starts.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Wyndham Clark/Beau Hossler (+260, DraftKings) — The stats on Clark are really good recently. Throwaway his poor off-the-tee numbers at Heritage (where his length and skill with the driver can be negated), and his SG/numbers look like he’s on the precipice of breaking through for a win.
Powers, Golf Digest: Scott Stallings/Trey Mullinax (+400, DraftKings) — Both these guys came on strong late last summer but haven’t quite been able to re-find that form, save for a strong top 10 from Mullinax at Bay Hill. I’m betting this is the week that turns for both of them and they feed off of each other. Mullinax seemed to find something with his irons last week despite missing the cut, while Stallings has been strong off-the-tee and around the greens long-term.
Lack: Ryan Palmer/Scott Piercy (+500, DraftKings) — Palmer and Piercy are the only pairing in this field where both players have won this event. Of course, neither accomplished this feat together, as Palmer’s win came alongside Jon Rahm, while Piercy’s win came alongside Billy Horschel. Still, experience at this event has proven to matter, and both Palmer and Piercy have shown that they have affinity for TPC Louisiana and know what it takes to find their names on the first page of the leaderboard.
Top-10 results from the RBC Heritage: Lack: 1 for 1 (Sungjae Im +260); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Gdula: 8 for 24 (up 13.1 units); Gehman: 7 for 24 (up 9 units); Mayo: 6 for 23 (up 5.1 units); Lack: 5 for 14 (up 5.1 units); Hennessey: 5 for 24 (up 3.35 units); Caddie: 6 for 24 (down 0.5 units); Powers: 2 for 24 (down 15.9 units)
Zurich Classic picks 2023: One and Done
Gehman: Taylor Montgomery/Kurt Kitayama — Here are two Las Vegas guys who are very familiar with one another. Montgomery has struggled recently but has a skill set that is really valuable in this format. He can hit it far and he makes a ton of putts. Kitayama has played much better, winning in Bay Hill last month and making a deep run at the Match Play. These two could make a lot of noise this week.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Sungjae Im. API: Rory McIlroy. Players: Jon Rahm. Valspar: Justin Rose. WGC-Match Play: Cameron Young. Valero: Rickie Fowler. Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Collin Morikawa.
Hennessey: Sahith Theegala — I’ll roll with the ultra-talented kid who’s put up great finishes in elevated events, and now gets another young stud with him in Justin Suh who can really roll the rock. I wouldn’t hate burning Cantlay or Xander here, but I think I’d most likely save them for elevated events like the Travelers.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Keith Mitchell. Players: Rory McIlroy. Valspar: Adam Hadwin. WGC-Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton. Valero: Nick Taylor. Masters: Scottie Scheffler. RBC Heritage: Jordan Spieth.
Powers: Robby Shelton/Lee Hodges — No other reason to use these guys all year and I fully expect them to go very, very low.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im. Genesis: Collin Morikawa. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Will Zalatoris. Players: Patrick Cantlay. Valspar: Justin Suh. WGC-Match Play: Tom Kim. Valero: Matt Kuchar. Masters: Tony Finau. RBC Heritage: Rickie Fowler.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.
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.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports