The Zurich Classic of New Orleans will make the switch to a two-man team format in 2017, becoming the PGA Tour’s first team event in nearly 40 years.
So we asked our writers, who would you most like to see team up?
By RANDALL MELL
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Yeah, somebody hand me Hal Sutton’s 10-gallon hat. This pairing isn’t likely to come off, but the question is what two-man team do I most want to see, not expect to see.
No golf union would be more anticipated, more compelling and potentially more fun to watch if these guys are able to have some fun together themselves.
The Duel at Doral, Tiger and Lefty’s epic 2005 Sunday showdown in South Florida, was the most electric pairing outside a Ryder Cup this century. It was riotously good golf, as noisy as any tournament’s ever been, with Doral bursting at the seams. It would be fun to see if Tiger and Lefty can generate that kind of excitement together again, this time as allies.
By REX HOGGARD
You could create an all-star pairing to play the new team event that will reportedly become the format for the PGA Tour’s New Orleans stop, a DJ-JD (Dustin Johnson and Jason Day) tandem would certainly be interesting.
For pure entertainment value, however, there may not be a better team than Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter.
The two match play magicians would be a perfect fit under the new format, which will feature 18 holes of foursomes (alternate shot) and 18 holes of fourballs (best balls) play before a 36-hole cut.
In four starts at the Ryder Cup for Team Europe, Poulter is 12-4-2, including just one loss in foursomes play; while Reed is 6-1-2 in two starts for the U.S. team.
At the WGC-Dell Match Play, the duo has also proven themselves particularly adept at the format; with Reed tying for ninth at this year’s event and Poulter finishing in the top-10 in half his starts (six) at the Match Play.
Chemistry might be an issue between the two, but ultimately it’s the competitor within that has made Reed and Poulter the preeminent match play participants of their generation.
And the spirited tandem would certainly add an impressive level of emotion to the new event.
By RYAN LAVNER
Jason Day and Dustin Johnson.
The only time the Australian and American stars could ever team up is in a TaylorMade ad. But their partnership at the Zurich Classic alone would be worth the price of admission.
No two players on the planet possess the raw power and soft touch around the greens like Day and Johnson. Put them on a soft golf course – the New Orleans-area event, it seems, is always affected by weather, thus the suggestion of format change – and they’d feast in the alternate-shot and best-ball competitions, all while dazzling crowds with their firepower.
The best part here is that this dynamic duo isn’t totally unrealistic – Day always plays the Zurich event, because of a sponsor obligation, and Johnson played last year for the first time since 2008. Hmm …
By WILL GRAY
It was the most exciting match of the Ryder Cup, so why not reprise a pairing of Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy?
Sure, it might be a little awkward with the two former combatants turned into teammates. But just imagine if they approached a fourball round with the same zeal that was on display at Hazeltine, attempting to bury one birdie on top of the next – but this time in a duel that would ultimately benefit them both.
Regardless of venue or format, Reed and McIlroy embody the ardent enthusiasm that makes the game fun. Professional golf can use more of both of them, and an opportunity to combine their play in a new event would certainly draw crowds.
Sure, it wouldn’t be as intense as the Ryder Cup, but nothing can be. The Zurich Classic is injecting some new energy into its tournament with a revamped format, and few players put that energy on display quite like Reed and McIlroy.