For 2017, the new Zurich Classic Team format will feature eighty two man teams competing in foursomes and four ball. Although these formats usually are associated with match play in the Ryder Cup, the Zurich Classic will use stroke scoring.
The first and third rounds will be played as alternate shot. The second and fourth rounds are four ball. A cut will be made after two days, with 35 teams and ties playing on the weekend.
Foursomes is also known as “alternate shot.” As defined in Rule 29 of the Official Rules of Golf, Foursomes are played between two teams of two golfers, each of which plays just one ball. Players on each team alternate teeing off, and then alternate each shot thereafter. The score for the hole is the total of the shots taken by the two players.
Four Ball is also known as “better ball.” In this format, two teams of two players play their own ball on each hole (thus, Four Ball). At the end of each hole, the best score of each pair becomes the score for that team.
The lead player on each of the 80 teams is selected from the standard PGA TOUR priority rankings. That players then can choose a partner, who must also have PGA TOUR status. Exceptions to that last are available via sponsor exemptions.
With this new team format, prize money and FedEx Cup points are awarded to both members of the team. Points and money are based on combining every two slots, with each team member receiving an equal share. The winning team thus will split first and second place FedEx Cup points (500 + 300), receiving 400 points each. Prize money is divided in a similar fashion.
Both players on the winning team also will receive the standard two-year winner’s exemption and eligibility into Invitational fields, including the Tournament of Champions and The Players Championship. The PGA of America will include both members in the PGA Championship.
The new Zurich Classic team format strikes me as bold and imaginative. It should offer some excitement to what was otherwise just another tournament in the overly long PGA TOUR schedule. I also imagine that the players should have a lot of fun with this, playing with partners whose company they enjoy.
I also see in the Zurich Classic an opportunity for America’s Cup Captain Steve Stricker and Ryder Cup Captain Jim Furyk to see how various players work with each other.