The Punter's De-Brief: Riley and Hardy claim the spoils at the Zurich

golfers Nick Hardy and David Riley
Nick Hardy and Davis Riley after winning the Zurich Classic

Nick Hardy and substitute partner, Davis Riley, have won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and Lucas Herbert has taken the title in Japan. Our man looks back at their successes here...

  • Hardy and Riley win from off the pace

  • Herbert gets it done in extra time

  • Read my Mexico Open preview here

  • Read my Korea Championship preview here

  • As highlighted in the In-Play Blog, I was quite keen on the chances of Keith Mitchell and Sungjae Im going into the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the pair were matched at a low of 2.01/1 when Im rolled in a birdie putt at the opening hole but that was as good as it got.

    They had to scramble a par at the par five second after Mitchell drove into a bunker and the 54-hole leaders, Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler, went back to the front with a birdie four.

    Clark and Hossler increased their lead to two with a birdie at the fifth hole and they were matched at odds-on when it looked like they'd go three clear before Im chipped in for par at the sixth.

    Mitchell and Im were clearly struggling, and it soon became apparent that any dangers to Clark and Hossler were likely to come from further back.

    But I don't think anyone could have expected the challengers to come from quite so far back...

    The Canadian pairing of Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor, who had been matched in-running at 1000.0999/1, began the day trailing the leaders by seven but after a birdie at the 13th, their seventh in-a-row, and a bogey at the seventh by Clark and Hossler, they hit the front.

    The standard of golf in the final group wasn't great and the dangers to the leaders were going to come from behind.

    The Canadians were matched at a low of just 2.3811/8 but they couldn't add to the birdie tally coming in and after back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14, Davis Riley and Nick Hardy had caught them as they played the final hole.

    It's still looks like advantage Hadwin and Taylor when a terrific bunker shot by Hadwin left Taylor a five-and-half foot putt for a birdie four and a tournament record ten-under-par 62 but it wasn't to be. Taylor's putt caught the hole but missed left.

    Clark and Hossler, who were matched at a low of 1.4840/85, rallied with a birdie at the 12th to make it a three-way tie at the top and they looked like taking the lead when Hossler hit his approach close on 13 but Clark missed the putt and that was that.

    Minutes after Clark's miss on 13, Riley holed for birdie at 16 to edge ahead and the result was put to bed on the par three 17th hole with he made another from off the green.

    Hardy was supposed to play with Thomas Detry but the Belgian changed his plans so he hooked up with Riley, who hadn't originally intended to play in the event.

    The pair, who had generally traded at around 70.069/1 before the off, hit a high of 150.0149/1 in-running.

    Hours before the final round of the Zurich Classic had even begun, pre-event 25.024/1 chance, Lucas Herbert, who had drifted out to 30.029/1 at the off, eventually won the ISPS Championship in Japan, but it was far from straightforward...

    Herbert was matched at 1.351/3 when he birdied the par four 10th to take the lead but instead of assuming command, he bogeyed the 11th and parred his way to the house after a birdie at the 12th.

    Pre-event 90.089/1 chance, Grant Forrest, was matched at a low of 2.021/1 in-running but he fell away to finish tied for fourth after a lacklustre back-nine and my sole selection before the off, 130.0129/1 chance, Calum Hill, also contended strongly.

    The 28-year-old hit a low of 2.77/4 when he holed a lengthy birdie putt on the par three 13th to get to -5 for the day but a string of pars followed and he finished a shot shy of the eventual winner and the 54-hole leader, Aaron Cockerill.

    Cockerill, a pre-event 310.0309/1 shot, began his final round slowly but after a birdie at 14 to tie the lead with Herbert, the Canadian was matched at 1.511/2 to take the title when he gave himself a great chance to birdie the par five 16th to hit the front.

    After missing the chance at 16, Cockerill made a spectacularly long two-putt at the par three 17th to save par and a great up-and-down from sand at 18 to take the tournament into extra time.

    The market made Herbert the 1.84/5 favourite before the playoff and both men came remarkably close to winning with a birdie three at the first extra hole.

    Cockerill hit a low of 1.412/5 after it looked like Herbert was in trouble off the tee at the second extra hole but after a nice drop from the path adjacent to the trees, he produced this brilliant approach shot to set up the birdie three and the win.

    As highlighted in the In-Play blog, I was keen on the Aussie from the halfway stage, but it really was a extraordinary victory.

    Having played in the RBC heritage on the PGA Tour last week, Herbert didn't get to the course until Wednesday, so he played the course blind and with jetlag on day one.

    Herbert's caddie, Nick Pugh, played the course before the off and Herbert just trusted him entirely with lines in and club selection in round one.

    The DP World Tour now moves on to Korea for the inaugural Korea Championship, which I've previewed here, and Jon Rahm will be defending his Mexico Open title on the PGA Tour. I've previewed that one here.

    *You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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