Planet Golf — 21 April 2023 by GW staff and news services
Hossler/Clark to be tested Sunday

AVONDALE, La. — Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler shot a 10-under 62 in better-ball play Saturday to maintain a one-shot lead through three rounds at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

“It’s going to be a cool environment and a unique experience frankly to have a chance to win a golf tournament with a partner,” Hossler said. “So, it will be a nice little Sunday for us.”

Clark and Hossler have finished each of the first three rounds atop the leaderboard on the strength of steady and largely mistake-free play. While they have not accounted for any of the 25 eagles during the tournament, they have not posted a single bogey in 54 holes, either.

They birdied 10 holes in the third round to put them at 26 under — a stroke ahead of Sungjae Im and Keith Mitchell — heading into the final round.

Clark made two birdie putts from beyond 20 feet — a 26-footer on par-4 12th and a 21-footer on the par-3 third.

“I hope tomorrow we’re light and loose like we’ve been all three days,” Clark said. “If the momentum goes in our direction, I hope we just keep riding it.”

While the 29-year-old Clark and 28-year-old Hossler do not have a PGA Tour victory between them, both have several top-20 finishes this season. Clark finished fifth at the Valspar Championship. Hossler tied for 11th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

“Frankly, getting yourself in position to win a golf tournament is difficult, and closing the deal is really hard,” Hossler said. “The more opportunities you get, the more comfortable you get, and hopefully we can lean on that tomorrow.”

Im and Mitchell also went bogey free with 10 birdies to remain one shot back at 25-under. Their highlights included Im’s 23-foot birdie putt on No. 3.

Tied for third were Vincent Norman and Matthias Schwab, Taylor Moore and Matthew NeSmith, and Nick Hardy and Davis Riley, three shots back.

All 35 teams to made the cut began the third round within six shots of one another. But just 12 teams were within six shots of the lead heading into Sunday.

Brothers Matt and Alex Fitzpatrick posted their second 10-under round in three days. Both came in the Four-ball format which, theoretically, would have allowed the more accomplished Matt Fitzpatrick — the defending U.S. Open champion and winner of the RBC Heritage last week — to carry the team.

But in both Four-ball rounds, Alex had as many or more birdies. They each had five in the first and Alex had six of their 11 birdies on Saturday. They would have had the day’s best round if not for a bogey on the par-4 sixth.

They enter the final round — which will be played in the Foursomes format — five shots back.

The stakes are far higher for Alex Fitzpatrick, who could earn his PGA TOUR card with a victory, or could qualify for an additional PGA TOUR event with a high finish. But the elder Fitzpatrick dismissed the notion that he’s feeling pressure to boost his younger brother’s career.

“I’m not worried about this week for Alex,” Matt Fitzpatrick said. “He can hold his own. … I just want him to enjoy this week, and I think by enjoying it, you’re going to give yourself a better chance.”

Likewise, Alex Fitzpatrick said, “There are stakes, but at the same time, we’ve got nothing to lose. … If we play well, great. If we don’t, it’s not the end of the world. I get to spend time with my brother, spend time with my family and stuff.”

After making a significant move up the leaderboard Friday with a tournament record 9-under for a Foursomes round, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele shot a 6-under 66 — seven birdies and a bogey on 16 — and were six back at 20-under.

Billy Horschel and former LSU player Sam Burns shot a 63 to improve to 20-under. Burns highlighted the round by chipping in for birdie on the par-4 13th, then waving his arm upward to encourage the gallery as it chanted L-S-U!”

The tees were up and there was a helping wind on the 16th, a 332-yard par 4, motivating many players to try to drive the green — even it missing left meant going in the water. No team managed an eagle on the hole but 19 teams birdied it. Nicolai Hojgaard’s drive landed just in front of the green and hit the pin, but bounded 10 feet away, his teammate Thorbjorn Olesen, wound up making birdie and Hojgaard picked up after missing his eagle putt.

Charlie Hoffman, who teamed up with Nick Watney, made the first hole-in-one of this year’s tournament on the 210-yard, par-3 ninth. It was the third of his career.


AVONDALE, La. — Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler shot a 5-under 67 in Foursomes play on Friday to maintain a one-shot lead through the second round of the Zurich Classic.

Defending champions Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele made the biggest move of the day, rocketing up the leaderboard with a 9-under 63 — the best score of the round by three strokes. They were at 14-under 130 through 36 holes, two shots behind Clark and Hossler.

Hossler made a birdie putt of nearly 60 feet on the par-4 fourth hole to highlight his team’s bogey-free round at the TPC Louisiana.

“It was fairly stress-free round,” Hossler said. “With the exception of the long putt on 4, I think we didn’t do anything crazy, but we also didn’t really make any mistakes. It was a really clean round.”

Three of the five birdies by Clark and Hossler came on par-5s after they either hit or narrowly missed the green in two. Their final birdie came shortly after a 2-hour, 28-minute delay caused by rain and lightning.

While the 29-year-old Clark and 28-year-old Hossler do not have a PGA TOUR victory between them, both have several top-20 finishes this season. Clark finished fifth at the Valspar Championship. Hossler tied for 11th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

“We’re in a great spot,” Hossler said. “I like our mentality.”

Cantlay and Schauffele looked more dialed in than during their erratic 5-under first round on Thursday that was marred by three bogeys in better-ball play.

They opened the more challenging Foursomes format in the second round on the 10th hole and birdied four of their first seven. They eagled the par-5 18th, set up by Schauffele’s towering, 264-yard hybrid that settled less than 15 feet from the hole. Cantlay drained the putt, giving the pair a 6-under 30 at the turn — a tournament record for nine holes in Foursomes.

“We needed to be aggressive here in alternate shot, which is a little dangerous,” Schauffele said. “It was just necessary.”

They added birdies at the first, second and fifth holes.

They also saved par after Cantlay’s drive had sailed right of the cart path on the par-4 sixth — a dogleg left around water that ranks as the No. 1 handicap hole on the course. Schauffele hit a low shot between a cluster of small cypress trees that cleared the water and settled just behind the left side of the green. From there, Cantlay chipped within 2 feet.

The teams of Sam Ryder and Doc Redman, and Sungjae Im and Keith Mitchell, ended the day tied for second at 15-under.

Ryder and Redman birdied six holes for a 6-under 66 that tied for the second-best score of the round.

Im and Mitchell recovered from a double bogey on No. 6, where Mitchell hit his tee shot in the water, to birdie six of their last 12 holes for a 67.

Sean O’Hair and Brandon Matthews, who began the day tied for first, slipped back into a tie for fourth with the Cantlay-Schauffele team and three others. O’Hair and Matthews shot 69.

The cut was at 10 under, meaning all 35 remaining teams slated to play in Saturday’s Four-ball third round were within six shots of each other. The final round is Foursomes.

The highest-profile twosome to miss the cut was two-time major winner Colin Morikawa and six-time PGA TOUR winner Max Homa. They shot a 2-under 70 to finish at 8 under.


AVONDALE, La. — The teams of Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler, and Sean O’Hair and Brandon Matthews, each shot an 11-under 61 in the Four-ball format on Thursday to tie for a one-shot lead through the first round of Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The 40-year-old O’Hair has four PGA TOUR wins, the last in 2011. Matthews, 28, has never finished higher than 35th.

The highlight of their round — if not the entire day — was Matthews’ eagle on the par-4 12th hole. He launched a 313-yard drive into the fairway, then holed a wedge from 135 yards.

“Sean played really a stress-free round of golf himself, and that took a lot of pressure off me,” Matthews said. “I could attack little bit more.”

Clark and Hossler combined for 11 birdies — seven by Hossler — at the TPC Louisiana.

While the 28-year-old Hossler and 29-year-old Clark do not have a PGA TOUR victory between them, both have several top-20 finishes this season. Clark finished fifth at the Valspar Championship. Hossler tied for 11th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

“Our games complement each other,” Clark said. “We both are good putters, both have a good short game, and then I kind of fade it and he kind of draws it. So, it’s a good mix.”

Matt Fitzpatrick, fresh off last weekend’s victory at the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, South Carolina, combined with his younger brother, Alex, for a 62 — tied with four other teams.

“It’s as much fun as I’ve had on the golf course in, well, about four days, to be fair,” Matt Fitzpatrick said.

Also shooting 62 were the teams of Sungjae Im and Keith Michell, David Lipsky and Aaron Rai, Luke List and Henrik Norlander, and Michael Kim and Seung-yul Noh. Noh won at the TPC Louisiana in 2014, before the tournament became a team event.

Rai carried his team with an eagle and seven birdies.

Six teams were two shots off the lead, including the tandem of Sahith Theegala and Justin Suh. There were more than a dozen eagles across the field on a dry, sunny and breezy day — two by Theegala on seventh and 18th, both par 5s. Theegala also made a 69-foot birdie from the fringe on the par-3 ninth.

The 24-year-old Alex Fitzpatrick is a former Wake Forest player who turned pro last June and plays primarily on the Challenge Tour in Europe. To play the Zurich, he needed a sponsor exemption, which tournament organizers gladly granted to ensure the participation of his 28-year-old brother, who is also the defending U.S. Open champion.

Alex, who could earn a PGA TOUR card with a win, pulled his own weight around the Pete Dye-designed, 7,425-yard course built in cypress swamps outside New Orleans.

The Fitzpatrick brothers each made five birdies, with Alex making three straight during the English tandem’s final five holes.

“He played great on the back nine, and he bailed me out a few times,” Matt Fitzpatrick said.

Play switches to the more challenging Foursomes format for Friday’s second round. After the cut, the format will again go to Four-ball for the third round and back to Foursomes for the final round.

The team of Sam Burns and Billy Horschel was among 16 teams that shot a 64. Burns and Horschel were runners-up at the Zurich a year ago, finishing two shots back.

Burns twice reached par-5 greens in two (on the seventh and 18th). But he missed both eagle putts. Their eight birdies were highlighted by a 30-foot putt from Horschel.

“It was a good round, but also a frustrating round,” Burns said. “Other than the putt Billy made on 3, we didn’t really make many putts. I would say we played better than what we shot.”

Defending champions Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele started slowly and were 1-over through six before birdies on six of their next seven holes. But they alternated bogeys and birdies on their final four holes to finish at 5-under.

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