SEC rivalry teams emerging in Zurich Classic

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Another SEC pair has joined the 2017 Zurich Classic, expanding the emerging rivalry among schools, announced Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the tournament.

John Peterson and Andrew Loupe, who both played for LSU, have announced they will form a team to play in this year’s Zurich Classic, joining the Auburn pairing of Jason Dufner with Patton Kizzire and the Alabama team of Justin Thomas with Bud Cauley.

In addition to Peterson and Loupe, former LSU player Smylie Kaufman is teaming with Harold Varner III, who also wore purple and gold in college—for East Carolina University.

Peterson is playing the PGA TOUR on a major medical exemption after missing virtually all of last season due to wrist surgery. So far this season, he has posted a tie for 12th in the Waste Management Phoenix Open and a tie for 15th in the OHL Classic in Mayakoba. In 2013, he tied for eighth in the Zurich Classic, a year after he tied for fourth in the U.S. Open.

He was a three-time All-American and won the NCAA individual title in 2011 while playing for LSU.

Loupe, a two-time All-American at LSU, advanced to the FedExCup Playoffs last year on the strength of a solid season that featured a tie for third in the Career Builder Challenge, his best showing in his PGA TOUR career. He missed the cut in last year’s Zurich Classic.

Kaufman won the second tournament of his rookie PGA TOUR season in 2016-17 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, where he shot a final round of 61, punching his ticket for the Masters. He came from seven strokes behind on the last round of the tournament and had to wait two and a half hours before the final group holed out.

The week before his victory, he tied for 10th in the Open in the very first tournament of his rookie season. He has also finished tied for eighth in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship last season. He missed the cut in last year’s Zurich Classic after posting a 68 in the first round.

At LSU, he was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll team each year between 2011-14. A native and resident of Birmingham, AL, we won the 2011 Alabama State Amateur Championship.

Varner won the Australian PGA Championship in 2016 by posting opening and closing rounds of 65. He was one of seven rookies to advance to the FedExCup Playoffs last year, with four top-10 finishes among his seven top-25 showings in his first year on TOUR. One of those top-10 finishes last year was a tie for eighth in the Zurich Classic.

At East Carolina, he was named Conference USA Player of the Year in 2012 and made the all-conference team three times.

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.

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 fifth.

Also entered are Justin Thomas, winner of three tournaments this season and currently ranked 7th in the world, along with Bubba Watson, 2011 Zurich Classic champion, currently ranked 17th.

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.

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