Planet Golf — 22 April 2022 by GW staff and news services
Cantlay-Schauffele dominate Zurich

AVONDALE, La. — Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele held off Sam Burns and Billy Horschel by two strokes Sunday in a record-setting, wire-to-wire victory in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

Cantlay and Schauffele closed with an even-par-72 in the alternate-shot final round to finish at 29-under 259 at TPC Louisiana. They broke the tournament record of 27 under set by Kevin Kisner-Scott Brown and Jonas Blixt-Cameron Smith in 2017, the first year the tournament was played as a team event.

Cantlay and Schauffele opened with a record 59 in best-ball play Thursday, and began Sunday at 29 under after shattering the 54-hole record of 23 under.

Local favorite and LSU graduate Sam Burns and Billy Horschel pulled within one after birdieing the eighth, 10th and 11th holes. But Burns’ tee shot on the short par-4 16th found the water and a bogey on the par-3 17th left them three behind. They shot 68.

Doc Redman and Sam Ryder were third at 24 under after a 67.

Cantlay, the defending FedExCup champion and PGA TOUR Player of the Year, won his seventh TOUR title and first since the TOUR Championship in September. He was second last week in the RBC Heritage.

Schauffele won for the fifth time. He last won at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

THIRD ROUND

NEW ORLEANS – The classic ham and egg description for team play doesn’t cut it for what FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay and Olympic Gold Medalist Xander Schauffele have produced over the opening three rounds of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. 

It’s surf and turf. Or perhaps as this is New Orleans – where high-end food sits on almost every corner and a certain French flair exists – it should be croque madame?

Whatever you want to call it, it was phenomenal golf with both players doing their part and sets up what surely will produce the next TOUR win on the resume for two of the game’s young stars.

The pair were simply scintillating in the third round Four-ball at TPC Louisiana, coming home in an incredible 8-under 28 to shoot 12-under 60. They went within a whisker of equaling their record setting 59 effort from Thursday’s opening round but now sit an incredible 29-under par with just Sunday’s Foursomes (alternate shot) left to negotiate.

They obliterated the 54-hole scoring record and are already ahead of the 72-hole scoring mark, held by the teams of Jonas Blixt-Cameron Smith and Kevin Kisner-Scott Brown from the 2017 edition at 27-under.

The California kids will start their victory quest with a five-shot buffer over the nearest challengers in South African pairing Branden Grace and Garrick Higgo who have raised the interest of International Presidents Cup Captain Trevor Immelman with their efforts thus far. They will look to avenge the runner up finish countrymen Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel produced a year ago.

A shot further back with a daunting mountain to climb are further Presidents Cup hopefuls. Sam Burns and Billy Horschel are pushing to get Davis Love III to notice their efforts while former International Team member Jason Day has found some of his old mojo teamed with fellow Australian Jason Scrivener. Joining them are the underdog duo of Aaron Rai and David Lipsky.

But those teams, or any others further back, will need a herculean effort to get anywhere near the dominant duo. Their lone dropped shot through three rounds came in round 2 when an unlucky bounce saw a Cantlay drive wedged against a tree. The resulting bogey was a triumph given the unplayable lie penalty they were forced to take.

Cantlay chases a seventh TOUR win, but first of this season after he claimed the season long race last year. He came into the week after a playoff loss against Jordan Spieth at the RBC Heritage. For Schauffele, it’s a somewhat elusive fifth win he seeks. While he took the Olympic Gold Medal in Japan last year his last TOUR win came over three years ago at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

While they were full of fun and entertainment on the course, the pair continue to put on their stout game faces in front of the press. They simply refuse to get ahead of themselves and won’t alter their game plan to be more conservative despite their sizeable lead.

“We’re going to try and do exactly what we did on Friday, which is sort of plot along, play our games, leave each other in good spots, and try and hole some putts,” Schauffele deadpanned. “It’s the third quarter. We finished a really good three quarters here and we have one more to go.”

Both men did admit a victory would be sweet for many reasons, especially as something to share given their burgeoning friendship over the last few years. Having first met during college golf, the pair took things up a notch as friends during the 2019 Presidents Cup. Now they even vacation together with their significant others. It’s made this week enjoyable.

“I’d say everyone gets along. Even our teams get along really well. This week has been fun with dinners and hanging out off the golf course, and it would be really special to go out and get it done tomorrow,” Cantlay said.

The chasers aren’t prepared to hand over the trophy just yet.

“Everything could change in one hole tomorrow. We just have to kind of get off to a very solid start and then play yourself into the day. You can’t get overaggressive, just try to give yourself some chances on every hole, and we’re bound to make a few,” Grace said.

Indeed, the alternate shot format can produce big score swings, particularly when it is not used in a match play setting. There is no picking up the ball or conceding a hole. And with forecast winds likely to produce tricky gusts it won’t be all smooth sailing.

Grace saw first-hand the danger that can lurk when a team relies on one ball. During Saturday’s round he lost a tee ball into a hollowed out broken tree trunk. Grace may have made a miraculous par from that point (and was further boosted when Higgo made birdie for the team regardless) but says those moments in alternate shot can be catastrophic.

The Australian team realize how big Sunday could be. Day last won at the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship and currently sits 129th in the FedExCup this season. Scrivener is a DP World Tour player but makes no secret of the fact he wants to get to the PGA TOUR, and a top-5 finish would afford another start next week.

“I haven’t got the greatest FedExCup ranking right now so I have to play well. Then obviously Jason is a good player, plays on the European Tour, and I know that if we have a great week, obviously that could be life changing for him,” Day said.

“But we can’t really get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve just got to stay as present as possible and hit the shots when they come and just add them up at the end of the day tomorrow. Patrick and Xander, they’re playing some phenomenal golf, so they’re going to be very difficult to catch and to pass tomorrow.

“Tomorrow’s format is difficult. If there’s a little bit of breeze, it will add that difficulty, as well. If you’re on the wrong side of it, it’s really hard to gain momentum. I’d like to be where those guys are but I’m pretty happy with where we’re positioned going into tomorrow.”


SECOND ROUND

AVONDALE, La — Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele shot a 4-under 68 in alternate-shot play Friday at windswept TPC of Louisiana to maintain a one-stroke lead in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup partners opened with a tournament-record 59 on Thursday in best-ball play. They were at an event-record 17 under, with only one bogey through 36 holes.

The teams of David Lipsky-Aaron Rai and Doc Redman-Sam Ryder were second after 67s. All four of those players are seeking their first PGA TOUR victory.

Cantlay and Schauffele, starting on the back nine, birdied three of the first four holes to offset a bogey on the par-4 12th and added two birdies on their back nine.

“It was definitely more difficult playing alternate shot,” Cantlay said. “I think 4 under is really good considering the circumstances with the wind and our round yesterday. I think it sets a really good tone going into the weekend.”

Cameron Tringale-Wyndham Clark and Brandon Grace-Garrick Higgo were 15 under. Higgo and Grace shot 65, and Tringale and Clark had a 67.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Ryan Palmer settled for an even-par 72 to make the cut on the number at 8 under.

Ryder and Redman, who belong to the same country club and share the same coach, followed their opening 61 with a bogey-free round. They birdied their opening two holes and added another on the fourth to make the turn. On the inward nine, they birdied the par-5 11th and the short par-4 13th before parring out.

“It’s just been as stress free as it can in this kind of format,” Ryder said. “You have a tendency, I think, sometimes to try harder because you’re not just kind of feeling like you’re letting yourself down, you’re trying almost a little harder for your teammate. He’s swinging it great, putting me in good positions off the tee, playing from the fairway, chipping it nice a couple times when we had to, and everything has just been solid.”

Rai and Lipsky had six birdies, including four on their way to a 3-under par 33 on the front nine. They also opened with a 61.

“We played really well together,” Rai said. “(Lipsky) hit some very good shots early on. I made a couple of putts and we kind of got the round going quite early.

The father-son team of Jay Haas and Bill Haas also made the cut on the number, following a 65 with a 71. At 68 years, four months, 20 days, Jay Haas, making his 799th official start, is the oldest player to make a PGA TOUR cut.

The format shifts back to the best-ball Saturday. The final round will be alternate shot.


FIRST ROUND

NEW ORLEANS – FedExCup champion Patrick Cantlay and Olympic Gold Medalist Xander Schauffele lived up to their star billing in the opening round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, combining for a tournament record 13-under 59 at TPC Louisiana in Four-ball action.

Currently in its fifth year as a team competition, Cantlay and Schauffele combined for 11 birdies and an eagle in the best ball format, besting the previous record of 60 held by six teams, including Matthew NeSmith and Taylor Moore who set the morning pace on Thursday.

While the effort won’t officially join the ranks of the 12 sub-60 rounds in the PGA TOUR stroke play record books, it was still a scintillating performance from the two friends who have groomed the partnership over the 2019 Presidents Cup and 2021 Ryder Cup.

Here is a quick breakdown of their efforts.

• The team went out in 7-under 29 before coming home in 6-under 30.
• The duo shared responsibility with Schauffele credited for six birdies and Cantlay adding five plus the eagle.
• The team only failed to break par on six holes, three of those being par-3s.
• They were 7-under on the par-4s, 5-under on the par 5s and 1-under on the par-3s.
• Schauffele made birdie putts from 12’7”, 9’5”, 6’7”, 7’7”, 14’0”, and 2’7”.
• Cantlay made eagle from 27’1” and birdies from 12’0”, 18’3”, 21’3”, 38’11” (a chip in from off the green) and iced the sub-60 round with a 2’11” birdie on the last after coming up short with an eagle attempt for a 58.
• Fairways Hit: Cantlay 10/14, Schauffele 8/14.
• Greens In Regulation: Cantlay 11/18; Schauffele 9/18.

Cantlay holed a 25-foot eagle putt early and chipped in from 40 feet for birdie late, while Schauffele contributed six birdies of his own, and their three straight birdies to close gave them the 13-under 59.

It set a tournament record since the Zurich Classic switched to team play in 2017, and the Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup partners were willing to claim a piece of golf’s magic number.

“I haven’t done it before. I don’t think Pat has, either. I’ll count it in my book,” Schauffele said.

They had a one-shot lead over the team of Matthew NeSmith and Taylor Moore. The group at 61 included Robert Garrigus and Tommy Gainey, and Aaron Rai and David Lipsky.

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and Ryan Palmer were five shots behind at 64.

The second round moves to foursomes, and while alternate shot is the more difficult of the format, Cantlay and Schauffele have put together a 4-0 mark in their partnerships at the 2019 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne and he 2021 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

“It’s just the first quarter. We’re only one ahead,” Cantlay said. “But we are going into a format on Friday that we really like — I think Xander and I really like alternate shot. It’s one of our strengths for the week, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Moore was lucky to have much strength at all.

He was in the emergency room Wednesday morning from food poisoning, got some fluids and nausea medicine and finally was able to keep some food down Thursday morning.

“Just tried to finish every hole,” Moore said. “That was kind of a win within its own right.”

Lipsky avoided the hospital, though he was involved in a car accident earlier in the week. Turns out there was a car in front of him that had broken down, and as Lipsky went to change lanes he said the driver behind him slammed on the brakes and hit him.

“I’m all right. I think the other two drivers were fine,” Lipsky said. “Yeah, I was a little bit of a hectic beginning to the week.”

Cantlay and Schauffele — who have gone on vacations together when they weren’t representing their country in the cups — were extremely effective on the greens.

Only three of their 11 sub-par holes were from putts inside 10 feet.

“We played really well, made a lot of putts today on a day that was a little tricky with the wind and didn’t birdie a lot of the same holes,” Cantlay said. “When you do that in this format, that’s really the key.”

Equally impressive was the father-son duo of Jay and Bill Haas. The 68-year-old father had four of their seven birdies, three of them from the 15-foot range, in their 65.

Xander Schauffele: “It counts for me. I haven’t done it before. I don’t think Pat has either. I’ll count it in my book.”

Patrick Cantlay: “We played really well, made a lot of putts today on a day that was a little tricky with the wind and didn’t birdie a lot of the same holes. When you do that in this format, that’s really the key. (But) it’s just the first quarter. So the buffer, we’re only one shot ahead, but we are going into a format on Friday that we really like. I think Xander and I really like alternate shot. It’s one of our strengths for the week, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

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