Two more former Zurich Classic champions have formed their teams to play in this year’s tournament, announced Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the tournament.
Jerry Kelly, 2009 Zurich winner, will team with Steve Stricker, who has been named captain of this year’s U.S. Presidents Cup team. Jason Dufner, who won in 2012, has paired with Patton Kizzire. Both Dufner and Kizzire played for Auburn in college.
Dufner won the first of his four PGA TOUR titles at the 2012 Zurich Classic, then went on to win the PGA Championship the next year. Prior to his win in 2012, Dufner enjoyed a series of three straight top-ten finishes at the Zurich Classic, with a T9, T7 and T3 from 2009-2011. He advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs last year for the eighth time in his career and qualified for the TOUR Championship for the fifth time. He last played in the Zurich Classic in 2013, finishing tied for 42nd.
Kelly made an impressive showing with a tie for third earlier this year in his first PGA Champions Tour event. He has won three times on the PGA TOUR and qualified for the FedfExCup Playoffs last season for his tenth consecutive time, one of only 16 players to ever do so. He is a regular competitor in the Zurich Classic, famous for eating charbroiled oysters on the 18th green during his winner’s ceremony in 2009.
Stricker has won 12 times on the PGA TOUR and twice in Canada. He also won the 2009 Shark Shootout, an unofficial team event, with Jerry Kelly as his partner. He has played on five Presidents Cup teams and three Ryder Cup teams before being named Presidents Cup captain for 2017. Playing on a limited schedule last season, he finished fourth in The Open Championship. He played in last year’s Zurich Classic, finishing tied for 58th.
Kizzire finished second in this season’s first event, the Safeway Open. He made the FedExCup Playoffs last season in his rookie year, one of only seven first-year players to advance that far. He recorded five top-10 finishes last season, placing him 40th in FedExCup standings. He tied for eighth in last year’s Zurich Classic, his first time at the tournament.
The addition of Dufner and Kelly brings the number of past Zurich champions playing this year to eight, including:
Brian Stuard (2016) with Chris Stroud
Justin Rose (2015) with Henrik Stenson
Seung-Yul Noh (2014) and Byeong Hun An
Bubba Watson (2011) and J.B. Holmes
Jason Bohn (2010) with Carl Pettersson
K.J. Choi (2002) with Charlie Wi
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. Also entered is Justin Thomas, winner of three tournament this season and currently ranked 7th in the world.
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.
For information about the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, please visit www.zurichgolfclassic.com.