Golf’s PGA Tour has today (Monday) confirmed that it will return a team-based tournament to its schedule for the first time since 1981 by revamping the format of its existing Zurich Classic of New Orleans event.
Formerly a traditional individual stroke play tournament, the 2017 event at TPC Louisiana will change to a two-man team format which will feature two rounds each of foursome and four-ball competition. Taking place from April 24-30, the Tour said the change has drawn widespread interest among members, with a couple of high-profile commitments announced today.
World No. 1 Jason Day will team up with America’s Rickie Fowler, while 2015 Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion Justin Rose will be paired with Henrik Stenson, making a team comprised of the Olympic gold and silver medallists, respectively.
The new 72-hole stroke play format will feature foursomes (alternate shot) during the first and third rounds and four-ball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds. The starting field will consist of 80 teams. Each of the top available players from the PGA Tour Priority Rankings who commits to the tournament will choose his partner, who in turn must have PGA Tour status unless he is chosen as a tournament sponsor exemption.
Following the conclusion of the second round, there will be a cut to the low 35 teams and ties at the 35th position. In case of a tie after 72 holes, there will be a sudden-death playoff using the four-ball format.
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans will continue to award FedExCup points and official money, and will count as an official victory for the members of the winning team. As such, both players will receive a two-year winner’s exemption and an eligibility into invitational fields, including the Tournament of Champions and The Players Championship. Additionally, the PGA of America will include both members of the winning team in the tournament winners’ category for the PGA Championship.
FedExCup points and prize money will be awarded to teams making the cut based on combining every two positions from the distribution table for a standard Tour event, with each team member receiving an equal share. Official prize money will be distributed in the same manner.
Andy Pazder, chief of operations for the PGA Tour, said: “We have seen the growth of popularity with the biennial team competitions like the Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup and World Cup and the excitement that they produce. We believe the fans will love to see this sort of competition as a regular part of our season.”