PGA betting: Why we're backing the Zurich Classic defending champs in a head-to-head

·Betting analyst
·2-min read

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans takes this place week and is the only team event on the PGA Tour that counts for FedEx Cup points. The Aussie duo of Marc Leishman and Cam Smith won this event last year, shooting 20 under.

For the viewers, it’s a fun event but from a betting perspective, it can be a challenge. Duos will play best ball on Thursday and Saturday and alternate shot on Friday and Sunday. You can consider course history, look for complementary pairs (a good ball striker paired with a good short-game player), or just go with strength with strength (two good ball strikers or two good short gamers).

At least for a head-to-head, I’m fading a duo with the same ball striking strength.

Smith/Leishman (+115) against Morikawa/Hovland

I’m ignoring the words of Alan Jackson that “too much of a good thing is a good thing” and instead thinking that for a PGA event, having the same two strengths and same two weaknesses may be a detriment. Both Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland are two of the best ball strikers on tour. Combined, they lead the field in strokes gained off the tee and strokes gained on approach. When it comes to the short game, however, the duo is sixth worst in the field for strokes gained around the green and in the middle of the pack for putting. That could be troublesome for the alternate shot days.

Smith and Leishman, on the other hand, may not gain strokes off the tee, but it’s because of a lack of distance, not accuracy. Combined, they are fourth in the field for iron play, top 10 around the green, and second in putting and birdies made.

Both Morikawa and Hovland played here just once last year. Morikawa missed the cut and Hovland took T25 paired with fellow Norwegian Kris Ventura. Though Smith and Leishman won this event last year, I’m looking at the solo experience Leishman has with this course, with a T28 and T20 on top of last year’s team win.

I’ll back the players that have good iron games to go along with their stellar short games and more course experience.

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