Justin Thomas, already the winner of three PGA TOUR titles this season and currently ranked seventh in the world, will team with fellow University of Alabama alum Bud Cauley to play the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, announced Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the tournament.
In addition to Thomas and Cauley, three more former Zurich Classic champions announced their commitments and player partners:
Brian Stuard (2016) with Chris Stroud
Jason Bohn (2010) with Carl Pettersson
K.J. Choi (2002) with Charlie Wi
Bubba Watson, 2011 Zurich Classic champion announced last week he will team up with J.B. Holmes in this year’s tournament featuring the unique team format.
Thomas, who will turn 24 during the Zurich Classic, won both tournaments in Hawaii to start 2017, after repeating as champion of the CIMB Classic at the beginning of the 2016-17 wraparound season. He currently ranks first on TOUR in FedExCup points. During the Sony Open in January, he became the youngest player in TOUR history to break 60, when he carded a 59 in the first round on his way to a runaway seven-stroke victory.
He finished fifth in this week’s World Golf Championships—Mexico Open, where he held the 54-hole lead after taking the third-round lead with a hole-in-one at the 232-yard, par-3 13th hole.
Thomas finished 12th in the 2015 Zurich Classic during his first full year on TOUR.
A native of Louisville, KY, he led the University of Alabama to the NCAA championship in 2013, his sophomore year. A first-team All-American in 2012, he won the Phil Mickelson Award as the top collegiate freshman to go with the 2012 Haskins Award and 2012 Nicklaus Award, presented annually to the top college player. He earned his PGA TOUR card after only his first year on the Web.com Tour.
Thomas’s teammate Cauley also played for the University of Alabama and earned his PGA TOUR card off of the non-member money list in just eight starts. Only six other players earned their PGA TOUR card straight from college without having to go to the Qualifying School, including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
His best finish this season was a tie for third in the Career Builder Challenge. He played the 2015-16 season on a major medical exemption and earned enough money to gain full TOUR status this year. He last played the Zurich Classic in 2014, when he finished 11th.
Thomas and Cauley boast undefeated records in Walker Cup team play as amateurs. Thomas went 2-0-1 on the 2013 team, and Cauley posted a record of 3-0-1 in the 2009 match, both won by the U.S.
The latest commitments add to what is shaping up as the strongest field in years for the Zurich Classic, said Worthy. Already announced are the teams of Jason Day with Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose with Henrik Stenson in this year’s unique team format. Day was ranked number one in the world for 47 weeks and is currently second. Fowler is ranked 9th in the world, Rose is 13th and Stenson is sixth.
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.