Zurich Classic to become team event in 2017

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans will reportedly switch to a two-man team format in 2017, becoming the PGA Tour’s first team event in nearly 40 years.

According to Golf Channel reporter George Savaricas, the event will feature 80 teams of two. Both members of the winning team will receive the two-year Tour exemption that typically accompanies a victory in an official event, and each winning player will receive 400 FedEx Cup points. A regular tournament offers 500 points to the winner and 300 to the runner-up.

According to Savaricas, both winning team members will earn spots in the Tournament of Champions and PGA Championship, but will not receive Masters invitations for the team win.

The top 80 qualifiers will be allowed to choose their own teammate, with the caveat that their partner must have at least some PGA Tour status this season. If not, the selection will require the use of a sponsor invite.

Savaricas reports that play will include one round of foursomes (alternate shot) and one round of fourballs (best ball) before the 36-hole cut to the low 35 teams.

A PGA Tour official declined to comment on any proposed changes to the tournament’s format.

Should the changes be implemented, it will mark the overhaul of an event that sometimes struggles to draw an elite field and often battles inclement weather delays during its late spring slot on the schedule. This year it took until Monday to complete 54 holes at TPC Louisiana, where the truncated event was won by Brian Stuard in a playoff over Jamie Lovemark and Byeong-Hun An. Next year’s event will be held April 27-30.

The most recent official team event on Tour was the Walt Disney World National Team Championship, which featured a two-man format from 1974-81 before reverting back to individual stroke play in 1982.