Steve Palmer’s Zurich Classic Tips: Watson and Scheffler Contenders in Louisiana

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This week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans sees the likes of Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer pair up.

Bubba Watson

Defending champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer are expected to perform well again in this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans but Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler will also hope to contend.

The last Zurich Classic of New Orleans was won by Rahm and Palmer two years ago – the Spanish youngster and the Texan veteran were cajoled together by their caddies and flourished – and they start their overdue title defence at much shorter odds than 2019.

Rahm and Palmer are available at 7/1, which highlights how well the weaker link of the pairing has been performing in recent weeks. Palmer has posted seven top-20 finishes in his last 11 tournaments, so will be confident of providing some strong back-up to world number three Rahm.

The Masters was Rahm’s first start since becoming a father – he rushed from his baby boy to Augusta for the first Major of the year – and he finished fifth. It is reasonable to assume that practice time has been limited for Rahm since the Masters, so maybe a little rust could stop the joint-favourites retaining their crown.

Cantlay and Schauffele can build on Presidents Cup Relationship

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele are sharing top billing with Rahm and Palmer – the Californian duo can also be backed at 7/1.

These two played four times alongside each other in the 2019 Presidents Cup in Melbourne – winning two matches and losing two – and they have become regular practice partners since. Their close relationship made a Zurich alliance a natural one, but neither has arrived at the tournament in high spirits.

Cantlay has missed the cut in his last three strokeplay events, as well as exiting the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at the group stage. Weekends off at Augusta and the Harbour Town Links were particularly disappointing given Cantlay had played so well at those courses before.

Schauffele is teeing up for the first time since he carded a calamitous triple-bogey six at the 69th hole of the Masters – a blunder which essentially gifted Hideki Matsuyama the Green Jacket.

Powerhouse Duo may Take Advantage of Soft Conditions

If the Palmer-Rahm and Cantlay-Schauffele combinations flop this week, the team who may take advantage could be the aggressive alliance of Watson and Scheffler.

The powerhouse pairing can be backed at 14/1 and that will appeal to many given they both performed in solid fashion in the Masters last time out. Watson won the Zurich Classic in 2011 and tied for fifth place in the 2017 edition with JB Holmes as his partner. Scheffler, runner-up in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at the end of last month, should prove a potent sidekick for Watson this week.

Scheffler, a two-time Korn Ferry Tour champion, is arguably the best maiden on the PGA Tour. With TPC Louisiana playing soft and long – and hardly any breeze in the forecast – the length off the tee possessed by Watson and Scheffler should prove lethal.

Scheffler has rocketed up to 21st in the world rankings and is eager to lift some PGA Tour silverware.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Steve has been a Racing Post columnist, golf tipster and punter for most of his working life. One of the most well-known tipsters in the country, his columns featuring golf betting tips have been must read material for years.

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