Fan favorite Andrew “Beef” Johnston will team with PGA TOUR regular Kyle Reifers; newcomer Bryson deChambeau will pair with veteran Rory Sabbatini
NEW ORLEANS — Andrew “Beef” Johnston, the shaggy bearded, hamburger loving golfer from Great Britain, has teamed with PGA TOUR veteran and former All-American Kyle Reifers for the 2017 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, announced Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the tournament.
PGA TOUR newcomer Bryson DeChambeau has also teamed with South African Rory Sabbatini in this year’s tournament featuring a unique team format, announced Worthy.
“We are eager to see how ‘Beef’ will take to our local seafood when he plays here in New Orleans, although we can show him some of our finest steakhouses as well,” said Worthy. “He has achieved a level of popularity on three different tours in both the U.S. and Europe starting last season,” Worthy added.
Johnston won his first European Tour tournament last year at the Real Club Valderrama Open de España. He joined the likes of Arnold Palmer (1975) and Padraig Harrington (1996) to make the Open de España his maiden European Tour victory.
But he captured the attention—and affection—of golf fans worldwide with his eighth-place finish in the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon. Fans readily related to an everyman appearing golfer from a working-class family whose late dad worked as a bus driver and whose mom worked in a school cafeteria.
Johnston also posted three other top 10s on the European Tour last year, then earned his card on the PGA TOUR in the Web.com Finals.
His best finish this season on the PGA TOUR was a tie for tenth at the Puerto Rico Open. True to his nickname, prior to the 2016 PGA Championship, he explored the best burger joints in Manhattan for a Wall Street Journal feature.
Reifers is still seeking his first PGA TOUR victory after earning his card in 2007. His highest finish this season was a tie for 17th in the Puerto Rico Open.
His best finish at the Zurich Classic was a tie for 24th in his rookie year at 2007 tournament, when he set the TPC of Louisiana course record of 64.
As an amateur, he won the Ohio State Amateur, which both his mother and father won as well. He played collegiately for Wake Forest, where he was a two-time NCAA All-American and a member of the winning 2005 Walker Cup team.
DeChambeau, a physics major in college, has been called the Mad Scientist on TOUR for his unconventional approach to the game based on scientific principles. All his irons are the same length, about the same as an average 7-iron. And each club is named—for example his 60-degree wedge is named “The King” after 1960 Masters’ champion Arnold Palmer, and his 6-iron is named “Juniper” after the sixth hole at Augusta National.
DeChambeau scored a top-five finish in his first professional appearance on the PGA TOUR and secured his 2016-17 card by winning his maiden Web.com tournament last year. His best finish this season was a tie for second at the Puerto Rico Open, where he held a share of the lead on Sunday afternoon.
While competing at Southern Methodist University, he became just the fifth golfer in history to win the U.S. Amateur and the NCAA Championship in the same year, joining Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore.
He helped lead the United States to a victory at the 2014 World Amateur Team Championships in Karuizawa, Japan. He also represented the USA at the 2014 Palmer Cup in England, winning one singles match and teaming with LSU’s Stewart Jolly to win their opening doubles match.
DeChambeau’s playing partner Sabbatini has played on the PGA TOUR since 1991, winning six regular season tournaments and the World Golf Championships—World Cup with Trevor Immelman.
Sabbatini has played on one Presidents Cup team and six World Cup teams. His best finish this season was a tie for 14th in the Farmers Insurance Open. Until he was injured during the 2015-16 season, he had made nine consecutive FedExCup Playoffs.
He tied for 17th in the 2014 Zurich Classic. His best finish in the Zurich Classic was a tie for second in 2009, then the 12th time in his career he had been a runner-up. He has since finished second two more times in his career.
He played on the International Presidents Cup team in 2007 and made six World Cup teams.
Is bvest finish this season
The Zurich Classic this year will feature the strongest field in recent history, with six players ranked in the world’s top 10, nine in the top 20 and 15 in the top 30.
Top ten players entered include Jason Day (third), Hideki Matsuyama (fourth), Jordan Spieth (fifth), Henrik Stenson (sixth), Justin Rose (eighth) and Rickie Fowler (ninth). Justin Thomas was tenth in the world but dropped to 11th in this week’s rankings following the RBC Heritage.
Day, ranked number one in the world for 47 weeks, is teaming with Fowler. Masters runner-up and Olympic gold medal winner Rose has paired with Olympic silver medalist Stenson in this year’s unique team format.
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.
About Fore!Kids Foundation:
Since 1958, the Fore!Kids Foundation has raised money to fund children’s service organizations through golf events like the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Golf Ball Gala and several charitable golf tournaments. As a 501(c)(3) corporation, Fore!Kids has helped to raise more than $32 million to date for children’s charities in metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge. More information at www.forekidsfoundation.com.
About the Zurich Classic of New Orleans:
Televised in more than 224 countries and territories, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans generates a significant economic impact on the city of New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana. Independent research has shown that the tournament generates spending of more than $40 million within the local economy and garners $33 million in positive national and international media exposure for both the city and state throughout the year beyond the four days of competition.
The tournament will be played April 24-30, 2017 at TPC Louisiana in Westwego. Purse for 2017 totals $7.1 million, with each member of the winning team earning $1,022,400.
Single-day grounds tickets are only $25 each in advance, $35 the week of the tournament. Weekly passes are $75 and choices of suite and specialty venue options are available by calling the Tournament Office at 504-342-3000 or online at www.zurichgolfclassic.com.