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‘Dawgs on Tour: There Is A “G” in Team

Zurich Classic Of New Orleans - Final Round Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Before we visit the funky format of this week’s PGA Tour event, let’s recap the RBC Heritage concluded Sunday.

Russell Henley, Kevin Kisner, and Chris Kirk all missed the cut by a single stroke. Kiz and Henley were in good shape in round 1 but blew up Friday.

Hudson Swafford was tied for 5th after 3 rounds in the 60’s, including a 66 Saturday, but a Sunday 74 dropped him to T35.
Brian Harman made the cut on the number (even par 142), then shot rounds of 68-68 on the weekend to also tie for 35th.
Brendon Todd played very steady for 4 days, and his 4 under cumulative gave him T26.
And Sepp Straka played great, climbing the leaderboard each day. At one point in the final round, he was tied for the lead and had a putt on the final hole to make a playoff. Alas, he tied for 3rd at 12 under. And he’s also in the top 15 in FedEx Cup points on the season.

The Tour hits I-10 West and heads to NOLA country this week for a unique team event.

Tournament: Zurich Classic of New Orleans, April 21-24, 2022

Course: TPC Louisiana, par 72, 7,425 yards. Just a few minutes south of New Orleans.

Purse: $8.3 million, $1,199,350 to each winner. Yes, each. I’ll explain below.

Defending Champ(s): Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith. The Aussies beat some South Africans in a playoff. This event goes to a playoff frequently, noting former Bulldog Kevin Kisner losing in a playoff in 2017.

Fun Fact: Each team gets to select it’s own walk-up song for the first tee! After some awkward moments the first couple of years, the players are now embracing it for either fun, popularity with the crowd, or even throwing shade at others. Some examples from last year are Beyonce’, Lil Wayne, Toto, Diddy, DMX, Imagine Dragons, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (CBS).

‘Dawgs in the Field: 7.

Kevin Kisner is once again teeing it up with longtime friend and fellow CSRA-ian Scott Brown. Kiz of course played at UGA, and Brown (born in Augusta), played at USC-Aiken.

Bubba Watson has a new bestie in Harold Varner III. The two both wear a lot of Jordan golf shoes and like some drip. HV3 is a North Carolina native, and played for the Greenville Community College of Pitt County Pirates. Which is why he wears purple on Sundays.

Keith Mitchell is repeating his partner of last season, Vanderbilt Commodore Brandt Snedeker. Sneds was a top 30 player for a decade, but has been sliding of late. I really think he’ll be an anchor that Mitchell has to drag around.

Aforementioned hot Sepp Straka is playing with Greyson Sigg, his college teammate. Sigg has full Tour status this year for the first time, and is currently 125th in FedEx Cup points.

And another couple of Bulldogs will pair up, Brendon Todd and Chris Kirk. These guys not only played all four years together in Athens, they were part of the 2005 Men’s Golf NCAA Championship team (which included Kevin Kisner). They are also both winners of multiple titles on the PGA Tour.

Here’s how it works. In round 1, the teams play a best ball format, also called foursomes. If you’re unfamiliar, both players tee off on each hole, then choose the best and both play the second shot from there. They repeat this through the hole. So the scores on that day will be low... very low. Let a couple of PGA pros get a second chance? Or see the line and speed on the same putt? Or let one play it safe with a layup and the other take the risky shot? Yeah, expect eagles and lots of birdies.

There’s a switchup in round 2. Instead of the foursomes/best ball, the teams will play alternate shot. The players will decide which tees off on even-numbered holes and which on odd. Whomever hits the tee shot, the other will hit the 2nd shot. And back and forth until in hole. Playing this way does not necessarily lead to low scores. And that is because someone is usually playing a ball they’re not accustomed to, or playing from angles or distances they’re not used to, or the stress of not leaving your partner in the trees/bunker/5 footers for par.

So there are very interesting dynamics. If you’ve watched the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, you’ve seen these formats. But not against a field of 160 players (80 teams). The top 33 teams (and ties) after 2 rounds will play the weekend. The general theory is to go as low as you can in best ball, and don’t make bogeys during alternate shot.

There is chatter that the PGA Tour will go to a multi-event team format in the fall, after the Tour Championship and basically to start the 2022-23 season. Because the eyeballs are all on college and NFL football, the broadcast partners and sponsors want to spice things up. And this is apparently one of the options the PGA braintrust is considering.

Speaking of sponsors, we all know that college athletes are cashing in on NIL deals. This extends to college golfers as well. I leave this here with no comment other than it is a match made in heaven. Good on ya, Junior.

And as always...