U.S. AND EUROPEAN RYDER CUP STARS EACH FORM TEAMS TO COMPETE IN ZURICH CLASSIC
Patrick Reed pairs with Patrick Cantley; Thomas Pieters teams with Daniel Berger
NEW ORLEANS, LA (April 4, 2017)—Two of the stars for their respective 2016 Ryder Cup teams have both entered their own teams in the 2017 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, announced Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the tournament.
Patrick Reed, who went 3-1-1 in his matches for the Americans, will team with Patrick Cantley, who missed all of last year due to injury but earned his PGA TOUR card this season with a second place in the Valspar Championship.
Thomas Pieters, who posted a 4-1 record in his first Ryder Cup competition last year, will team with Daniel Berger who played at Florida State and was named PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year in 2015.
“Our team format is attracting a number of Ryder Cup players from last year and many Presidents Cup contenders,” said Worthy. “Both Patrick Reed and Thomas Pieters grabbed the attention of the golf world for their intense play in international competition last year, and we expect more of that here at the Zurich Classic this year,” added Worthy.
Reed, currently ranked 13th in the world, won two Louisiana high school state championships at University High of Baton Rouge, then two NCAA collegiate championships at Augusta State before turning pro.
In last year’s competition, he went head-to-head with Rory McIlroy in one of the most thrilling matches in Ryder Cup history, eventually making birdie on 18 for a 1-up victory. Reed’s overall record in two Ryder Cup events is 6-1-2. He and Jordan Spieth were the only Americans to play all five matches last year at Hazeltine.
At 26, Reed has won five times on the PGA TOUR, joining Spieth (21) and Rory McIlroy (23) as youngest winners with five TOUR titles in last 10 years. His best finish this season was a sixth at the SBS Tournament of Champions.
Cantlay earned his PGA TOUR card with his runner-up finish at Valspar in only his second start after missing all of last season due to a back injury he suffered in 2013. Since the injury, he had played in only six starts on the PGA TOUR.
He had a storied amateur career highlighted by being named the winner of the Fred Haskins Award in 2011 as the nation’s top collegiate player as well as the Jack Nicklaus Award as the Division I Player of the Year—as a freshman. He was also that year named an All-American at UCLA plus PAC-10 Golfer of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
He played on the 2011 Walker Cup team, where he went 2-1-1. Later that year he posted a round of 10-under-par 60 in the Traveler’s Championship, becoming the first amateur in the history of the PGA TOUR to score 60 or better.
Pieters is currently ranked 35th in the world. He has won three times on the European Tour and this year has posted a tie for second in the Genesis Open and a tie for sixth in the World Golf Championships—Mexico Championship. Those finishes earned him temporary membership on the PGA TOUR this season.
In his first Ryder Cup competition, he played to a 4-1 record, the best performance by a European rookie in Ryder Cup history.
He played collegiately at University of Illinois and won the NCAA individual championship in 2012 at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles where the Genesis Open was played this year.
The Belgian native finished fourth in the 2016 Summer Olympics and also made the World Cup team last year.
His teammate Daniel Berger is ranked 34th in the world on the strength of three top-10 finishes on the PGA TOUR this year, including a tie for second at the World Golf Championships—HSBC Champions. He won the FedEx St. Jude Classic last year at the age of 23, holding off the likes of Steve Stricker, Phil Mickelson and fellow Seminole Brooks Koepka, who all tied for second.
He was named PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year in 2015 after a record of 15 top-25 finishes in only 21 tournaments. He tied for sixth that year in the Zurich Classic. He was the only rookie that season to advance to the TOUR Championship, where he finished tied for 12th.
At Florida State, he was named a first-team All-American and was the runner-up for the NCAA individual championship in 2013. He also made the Palmer Cup team that year.
The latest commitments add to what is shaping up as the strongest field in years for the Zurich Classic, with four players ranked in the world’s top 10, eight in the top 20 and 11 in the top 25.
Already announced are the teams of Jason Day with Rickie Fowler and Olympic gold medal winner Justin Rose with Olympic silver medalist Henrik Stenson in this year’s unique team format. Day was ranked number one in the world for 47 weeks and is currently third. Fowler is ranked eighth in the world, Rose is 14th and Stenson is fifth.
Also entered are Justin Thomas, winner of three tournaments this season and currently ranked seventh in the world, along with Bubba Watson, 2011 Zurich Classic champion, currently ranked 19th.
The new 72-hole stroke play format will feature Foursomes (alternate shot) during the first and third rounds and Four-Ball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds. The starting field will consist of a field of 80 teams. Following the conclusion of the second round, the field will be cut to the low 35 teams and ties at the 35th position. In case of a tie after 72 holes, there will be a sudden-death playoff using the Four-Ball format.