AP on PGA TOUR, 29 April 2019: Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm shot a 3-under 69 in the alternate-shot final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Sunday to win the PGA TOUR’s only team event by three strokes over Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood.
With four birdies on the outward nine, Anirban Lahiri and Shubhankar Sharma moved to 19-under with nine to play. The score could have been good enough for a top ten and they looked like serious contenders for a top five finish.
Unfortunately though, Anirban and Shubhankar encountered some difficult lies and tricky putts on their way back home. They conceded three bogeys to slip back to 71, still good enough for a creditable T22.
The victory was the fourth on TOUR for the 42-year-old Palmer, but first in nearly a decade. Having last won in 2010 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, Palmer waved and gave a thumbs-up to TV cameras as he walked up the 18th fairway with a throng of fans applauding his and Rahm’s impending triumph.
The 24-year-old Rahm won his third TOUR title — one each in three straight seasons. He finished in the top 10 for the seventh time this year.
Palmer-Rahm finished with a 26-under 262 total at the TPC Louisiana, which had dried out considerably since heavy rain delayed the first round by more than seven hours and forced many players to play more than 18 holes on Friday and Saturday to get the event back on schedule.
Opening the final round tied atop the leaderboard with Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax, Palmer-Rahm surged to a two-stroke lead in just two holes after Stallings-Mullinax bogeyed the first hole and Rahm nearly holed out from the fringe to set up Palmer’s 1-foot birdie putt on the par-5 second. Palmer-Rahm never lost the lead after that, making birdies on 13 and 14 at virtually the same time Garcia-Fleetwood were making birdie on 17 and 18. From there, they just had to avoid mistakes — and did.
The teams of Kyoung-Hoon Lee-Matt Every and Brian Gay-Rory Sabbatini tied for third, five shots behind. Four teams tied for fifth at 20 under, four more tied for ninth at 19 under and defending champions Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy were among five teams tied for 13th at 18 under.
The winners each earned 400 FedExCup points and took home $1.05 million, moving Rahm up to nearly $3.1 million this season and Palmer to about $2.3 million.
Three days of sunshine made the greens increasingly faster, and a number of players struggled to adjust on Sunday, regularly rolling putts several feet past the hole.
Palmer and Rahm, however, thrived on the greens. Palmer made two putts from around 6 feet one from 7, one from 8 and one from 11. Rahm made a 13-foot birdie putt on 10 and dropped in a putt from nearly 24 feet to save par on 15.
The Zurich format was best-ball in the first and third rounds, allowing players to be more aggressive. But bad shots held the potential to derail alternate shot rounds because players had to deal with the lies their teammates left them.
Palmer and Rahm didn’t misfire often in the final round, but when one of them did, the other responded well.
Rahm slammed his driver into the turf after pulling his tee shot through trees and into the waste bunker on 12. But Palmer responded with a 195-yard shot that landed just short of the green, and sank a 6-foot putt two shots later to save par.
One hole later, Rahm’s psyche appeared fully restored as bounced a 71-yard chip off the flag on 13 to set up Palmer’s short birdie putt.
By contrast, Stallings-Mullinax faded on the back nine, where they bogeyed the 11th and 13th and double-bogeyed the 16th after Mullinax’s tee shot went into the water left of the fairway. They finished the round with a 5-over par 77 and tied for 13th overall.
Bubba Watson, arguably the most popular player on the course, playing a three-hours’ drive from his native Bagdad, Florida, appeared primed to make a run with partner J.B. Holmes after they’d birdied the fourth, seventh and eighth holes to move to 20 under. But after Holmes narrowly missed a birdie putt on 9, Watson left an approach shot on 10, which the tandem bogeyed.
Holmes narrowly missed another birdie putt on 11, and then pulled his drive on 12, forcing Watson to chip back to the fairway while leaning against a tree. They bogeyed that hole and then squandered Watson’s booming drive on 13 by three-putting for bogey. After a double bogey on 15 and another bogey on 16, they wound up tied for 34th, 13 shots back.