The Zurich Classic definitely offers something pretty special that has not been seen on the PGA Tour in 36 years. While there are team tournaments such as the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup, it’s always fun to watch some of the world’s best players go at it in a team setting.
Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer tied Kyle Stanley and Ryan Ruffels for the Round 1 lead at 6-under after play finished on Thursday. With the Zurich Classic implementing a new Foursomes format for rounds 1 and 3 (Four-Ball in 2 and 4), both teams struck first in a field that features many big names from the PGA Tour.
Spieth and Palmer had a smooth day six birdies with no bogeys. Spieth’s short game was superb, saving par or birdying 11 of the holes, including a beautiful chip-in on the 14th from 36 feet out. Palmer contributed with a strong short game of his own when needed. But it was Spieth’s big-time putting that paved the way for he and Palmer to grab a share of the lead.
“It’s great watching his short game,” Palmer said of Spieth. “It’s one of the best in the world. And when the putter is rolling, it makes it not as hard to make those 5-footers. We both had our fair share, and we poured them in.”
It certainly sounds like Spieth had a great time playing in the Foursomes format as well.
“Alternate-shot format with these conditions, anything 3 under or so was a solid score,” Spieth said. “Grab a few extra and be in pole position, it’s fantastic. We’re just going to try and have as much fun as we had today.”
Stanley and Ruffels started Round 1 on the back nine, but blitzed the course with four birdies in a row. They collected four more on the front nine and had two bogeys on the day. Stanley sank five of the eight birdie putts and for being just 18 years old (until Saturday at least), Ruffels was great saving par five times while also nailing three birdies.
“We both keep it in play, and we both hit it quite long, and we gave ourselves a lot of opportunities,” Ruffels said. “So all it took was someone to start rolling a few putts in, like we both did.”
Round 2 will change to the best-ball format so it will be interesting to see how the leaderboard shifts afterwards. Four teams will begin Friday just a shot behind the two leaders.
Team play is back on TOUR for the first time in 36 years.
Round 1 did not disappoint. pic.twitter.com/sHnmkLn4kQ
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) April 28, 2017
h/t: espn.com, pgatour.com