Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Euro duo can strike right notes

Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson
Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson can team up for victory

It's a change of format on the PGA Tour this week and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks for the team event at TPC Louisiana...

"TPC Louisiana has been likened to many in the Sunshine State so McDowell and Stenson have had plenty of success in such conditions - lots of water, Bermuda grass and wind."

Main Bet: Back Graeme McDowell/Henrik Stenson each-way @ 20/1

Graeme McDowell has a long and distinguished record in team golf and that could help him form a strong partnership with Henrik Stenson in New Orleans this week.

McDowell has helped GB & Ireland to Walker Cup victory, holed the winning putt at a Ryder Cup and contributed to two other victorious European teams against the United States.

Add in Seve Trophy, Royal Trophy, EurAsia Cup and World Cups and he's vastly experienced and successful when golf takes a break from the norm of 72-hole strokeplay.

The latest example comes from December's QBE Shootout when he teamed up with Emiliano Grillo of Argentina to finish runners-up.

Individually this season, G-Mac has returned to the winner's circle with a one-shot victory at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship, his fourth PGA Tour title.

Those with good memories will recall how McDowell played several times at the Tavistock Cup and was actually the leading scorer in the 2009 edition when helping Lake Nona to victory.

Stenson also took part and although it's another example of change of format golf, perhaps the more important angle is the Florida connection.

That tournament was for the PGA Tour's Florida residents and this week's course, at TPC Louisiana, has been likened to many in the Sunshine State so McDowell and Stenson have had plenty of success in such conditions - lots of water, Bermuda grass and wind.

Stenson also has a decorated history in team golf and, after a dreadful start to the season, finally clicked with some decent finishes on the Florida Swing - T17 at Bay Hill and T24 at the Valspar Championship.

He also made the last 16 of the WGC Match Play and fired a Saturday 67 on the way to T36 at the US Masters.

The duo had different partners last year (Stenson with Justin Rose and McDowell with Ian Poulter) and finished T19 and T22 respectively so hopefully some different chemistry can do the trick this time.

Both have won on Pete Dye courses - Stenson at TPC Sawgrass and McDowell at Harbour Town - so that adds a few percent extra too. Take the 20/1.

Next Best: Back Branden Grace/Justin Harding each-way @ 45/1

BRANDEN GRACE 1280.jpg

Using world golf rankings as a guide is hardly foolproof but it's a decent point of reference and there aren't too many teams on show with both players in the top 50.

The South African duo of Justin Harding and Branden Grace sit side by side in 45th and 46th and, remarkably, Harding is now the second-highest ranked Springbok golfer in the world.

And he shows no signs of stopping his rapid ascent up the OWGR.

If his dramatic rise could be glossed over due to an accumulation of points in events no-one was watching, he showed he was the genuine deal with a superb debut at the US Masters.

Rather than freeze in the headlights, Harding simply took his hot form to the Masters and made it work at Augusta National too, opening with a pair of 69s to tie for sixth at halfway before finishing tied 12th, ending as top debutant and also punching his ticket for next year's renewal.

A winner of the Qatar Masters in March - another windy event on bermuda which bodes well as that's the deal this week - it's foolish to rule out anything with Harding and he could end up being the strong man in his partnership.

Hopefully Grace can bring plenty to the table too though.

The eight-time European Tour winner (his first was 2012) won all five points in the 2015 Presidents Cup so clearly relishes team play and his one PGA Tour win also came on a Pete Dye track (Heritage).

His form has been a little patchy but Grace finished runner-up at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and made the last 16 of the WGC Match Play at the end of March.

Grace finished tied 24th in his one previous start here alongside Louis Oosthuizen so that's something to build on and he's actually a two-time winner in Qatar.

I can't find any obvious reason beyond nationality why they're paired together but Grace is 30 and Harding 33 to surely their paths have crossed growing up.

The South Africans tend to be a tight bunch so hopefully the two can match or improve upon Schwartzel and Oosthuizen's third place at this venue last year.

Final Bet: Back Brian Harman/Patton Kizzire each-way @ 50/1

For my last pick, I'll return to the 2018 QBE Shootout leaderboard and go with the two players who won that event five months ago - Brian Harman and Patton Kizzire.

Rounds of 59-66-61 took the Americans to victory and, on the eve of that event, it seemed they'd rather been thrown together as Harman was a late stand-in for Davis Love.

That couldn't have been further from the truth though.

"Patton's a real easy guy to play with. We've been buddies since we were 12," Harman revealed after their win.

"We played each other in the Polo, the U.S. Junior, Southeastern Junior Golf Tour, AJGAs. Known each other for a long time.

"We're always playing against each other (in practice at Sea Island).

"Actually, that probably helped us. Now we're fine like not hating each other when we're playing golf together. We're rooting for each other."

As the banter flowed in their winner's press conference, Kizzire added: "We're normally trying to get into each other's heads and this week he was nice to me, which was kind of weird."

Kizzire impressed when making the top 20 at Augusta two weeks ago while he's got some impressive history here after finishing tied fifth in 2017 with Jason Dufner and tied eighth in solo play in 2016 when this was still a regular strokeplay event.

Harman has missed his last three cuts but did post a notable T8 at The Players Championship on Dye's TPC Sawgrass and he was tied 14th here in tandem with Johnson Wagner when contesting it in 2017.

A pair that have the potential to be much greater than the sum of their parts, Harman and Kizzire could make a big impression at 50/1.

Dave's 2018/19 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £660
Returned: £476
P/L: -£184

2017/2018:
P/L: +£362.84

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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