Zurich Classic of New Orleans: Go with in-form Texans

Sean O'Hair - good record in team events
Sean O'Hair and partner Jimmy Walker are in fine form
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The PGA Tour switches to a pairs format this week and Dave Tindall picks out three bets at TPC Louisiana...

"Birdies (and eagles) are the name of the game this week (27-under won last year) and O'Hair racked up 13 circles and an eagle over the last 36 holes in Texas. Walker added 13 birdies of his own. That looks pretty good prep for what lies in store here."

Back Walker/O'Hair e.w. @ 28/1

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Main Bet: Back Walker/O'Hair e.w. @ 28/1

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are the 8/1 favourites to win this week but, given the format, I don't think I'd even back the combo of 2001 Tiger Woods and early 70s Jack Nicklaus at a single-figure price.

Yes, it's pairs. Alternate shot for two days (R1 & R3). Best Ball for two days (R2 & R4). It's still golf but no-one really saw Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith winning last year. And if you predicted Angel Cabrera and Julian Etulain to finish tied fifth, you're not telling the truth.

Rose and Stenson missed the cut by the way, as did Jason Day and Rickie Fowler.

It's tempting to throw a lot of logic out of the window but we have to have some sort of grip on the event so why not pick two players who both made the top five in last week's Valero Texas Open.

That's a good starting point for a punt on Sean O'Hair (tied second) and Jimmy Walker (fourth) and it adds a little that the two Texans did the bulk of their scoring on the weekend at TPC San Antonio.

O'Hair finished 65-66 while Walker closed with a pair of 67s. Birdies (and eagles) are the name of the game this week (27-under won last year) and O'Hair racked up 13 circles and an eagle over the last 36 holes. Walker added 13 birdies of his own.

That looks pretty good prep for what lies in store here.

Neither man played this event last year but Walker was T8 the last time he played this course in 2013 while O'Hair has three top 15s, including T12 in 2015.

O'Hair brings added appeal due to his record in team play. At the end of last year he teamed up with Steve Stricker to win the QBE Shootout and he landed that same tournament (in its guise as the Franklin Templeton Shootout) with Kenny Perry in 2012.

That suggests he's a very strong team player and has a flair for these type of events.

The easy-going Walker is certainly in good nick after T20 at Augusta National and his top four in Texas so hopefully the Texas twosome can produce the ideal blend for success.


Next Best: Back Hoffman/Watney e.w. @ 40/1

As stated, I'm staying away from short prices so next up are another all-American tandem - Charley Hoffman and Nick Watney.

This duo finished in a tie for fifth last year so get a tick in terms of course and format. Watney will be seen as the weak link given his world ranking of 255 but he was 406th in January.

Since then he's climbed over 150 spots due to T26 in Phoenix, T33 at the Honda Classic, T32 in Houston, T32 at the RBC Heritage and T20 in last week's Valero Texas Open.

Those with longer memories will recall that he won this event at TPC Louisiana in its strokeplay days in 2007 so it's a venue with many happy memories.

"You know, I feel like my results haven't quite caught up to the way I'm playing. I feel like I'm playing pretty well," he said at last month's Valspar so Watney can certainly make a big contribution.

Hoffman, the World No. 26, couldn't get anything going in Texas (T64) but prior to that he made the top 25 at Hilton Head and was T12 at The Masters.

Before the format switch, he'd been a regular visitor to TPC Louisana there and his last two strokeplay results were T11 and T5.

As well as taking T5 with Watney last year, Hoffman was also third in both the 2015 and 2016 Franklin Templeton Shootouts, partnering Daniel Berger and Billy Horschel respectively.

Long-standing friends, they gelled nicely last year and 40/1 looks a decent price.


Final Bet: Back Snedeker/Holmes e.w. @ 33/1

A few crossed my mind here.

The pleasingly palindromic pair of Na/An could go well while Harris English is a two-winner of the QBE Shootout and may shine alongside Hudson Swafford although the latter looks way out of form.

The veteran duo of Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker were T14 last year and have won the QBE Shootout together (Stricker, as mentioned, also won the latest edition alongside O'Hair).

It's tempting to seek comfort in the form of last year's play-off duos - Smith/Blixt and Kevin Kisner/Scott Brown.

But I'll give the final vote to Brandt Snedeker and J.B. Holmes. This duo played on the same 2016 Ryder Cup team although not as partners.

Snedeker won all three matches and also showed himself to be a good colleague when teaming up with Jason Dufner to win the 2015 Franklin Templeton Shootout.

He's got no course form (last visit back in 2011) but looks to be rounding into some nice current form after following T23 at Hilton Head with T15 in Texas.

Speaking at the latter, Snedeker said his game was close but he kept getting in his own way. Perhaps having Holmes smash drives 350 yards will put a pep in his step.

Holmes certainly enjoys this track and posted T13 and T11 in his last two strokeplay visits before coming close to cracking the code alongside the Bubba last year. The Holmes/Watson pairing came tied fifth.

Before missing the cut in Texas last week, Holmes had made his previous five cuts so he's not a mile away and hopefully these two good 'ol southern boys can made a song and dance in New Orleans at 33s.

Back at the front of the market, the duos of Spieth/Palmer, Watson/Kuchar, Cantlay/Reed, Cabrera Bello/Garcia and Cauley/Thomas all have an obvious chance but those five pairs are 14/1 or lower and I'm just not interested in those sort or prices.

The Sportsbook is paying out on the top six so hopefully my trio at 28s, 40s and 33s can make a title challenge and finish in the top half-dozen.


Dave's 2017/18 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £700
Returned: £1209.84
P/L: +£509.84

(After the Valero Texas Open)

2016/2017:
P/L: +£1179.89

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