Zurich Classic In-Tournament Picks: Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele Won't Give It Up

Andy Lack gives us his in-tournament picks and analysis for the Zurich Classic. Find out who presents the most value at the halfway point.
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Zurich Classic In-Tournament Picks: Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele Won't Give It Up

  • Current Leader: Patrick Cantlay & Xander Schauffele (-17)
  • Course: TPC Louisiana
  • Round 3 Start Time: 7:30 AM ET
  • Purse: $8,300,000

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Zurich Classic In-Tournament Picks

We've officially reached the midway point of the Zurich Classic, and for the third consecutive week, bookmakers feel that it is one team against the field. That team of course is Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele, who broke the tournament record on Thursday with a best ball 59 and followed it up with an impressive 68 in alternate shot. The Ryder Cup partners sit at 17-under par, one stroke clear of team Aaron Rai and David Lipsky and team Doc Redman and Sam Ryder. Cantlay/Schauffele can be found as high as +135 on FanDuel Sportsbook via the OddsChecker golf grid.

Every single week, I make the case for the underdog in this article. I will typically select one player in the +2500 to +5000 range, and one player north of +5000, often +1000. This has worked out to middling degrees. We've had some extreme long-shots in the mix late on Sunday afternoon, creating profitable hedge opportunities. Yet I've also watched the likes of Joaquin Niemann and Scottie Scheffler continue their domination as the favorites. I have a strong adverse reaction to endorsing any team at a worse number than their pre-tournament odds, but I could not believe how cheap the Cantlay/Schauffele duo was.

To me, there are only real two bets that could be made on this board. Cantlay/Schauffele or Burns/Horschel. Rai/Lipsky and Redman/Ryder are not even remotely in the class of the aforementioned teams, which are all made up of Top-15 players in the world. I expect both team Rai/Lipsky and Redman/Ryder to be exposed during alternate shot on Sunday, and there's absolutely no value in their current number anyway. I have slightly more confidence in team Wyndham Clark and Cameron Tringale's staying power, but they are both still in several classes below the leaders. Team Brandon Grace/Garrick Higgo and team Jason Day/Jason Scrivener are the only other teams within six strokes of the leaders. While both teams have been pleasant surprises, they won't be tracking down Cantlay/Schauffele.

That's what makes this board interesting to me. There are only eight teams within six strokes of the leaders, and the leaders are arguably the best team in the tournament. I can certainly get behind the idea of taking a chance on team Harold Varner/Bubba Watson (-11), team Shane Lowry/Ian Poulter (-11), team Cameron Smith/Marc Leishman (-11) or even team Collin Morikawa/Viktor Hovland (-9). All four of those teams have the talent to close the gap, and I would expect at least one of them to make up some ground over the weekend. I am not naive enough to suggest that Cantlay/Schauffele are going to have it easy and run away with it. This is far too variable of a tournament. If Morikawa/Hovland shoot 60 tomorrow, which is certainly in play, and Cantlay/Schauffele shoot 65, which is by no means a disaster, the lead is suddenly cut to three heading into Sunday.

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I remain confident that no one will ultimately catch Cantlay/Schauffele because of the advantage they have in alternate shot. Cantlay and Schauffele are extremely close friends, which is no secret to anyone. They vacation together, they play practice rounds together every single week, and they are a deadly duo at the Ryder Cup, that happened to go 2-0 in alternate shot at Whistling Straits. Of course, there is a non-quantifiable explanation for why this team works so well together. It's abundantly clear that they have good chemistry and trust each other. Just read any of their quotes heading into the week. Yet there is a statistical reason that also makes them so potent. Cantlay and Schauffele are two of the most well-rounded players on the PGA Tour. Neither players have any glaring weakness in their game, and they both excel at the same qualities. When I ran a pre-tournament model, they were the number one team by far, significantly ahead of Morikawa/Hovland.

Alternate shot is all about putting your partner in positions they are comfortable with and mitigating disaster. Even a team like Morikawa/Hovland can get into trouble extremely quickly due to Hovland's horrendous short game and Morikawa's ability to run cold with the putter. Cantlay/Schauffele may not possess the ball-striking upside of Morikawa/Hovland, but they aren't going to make any mistakes. They are the team that you want with a lead. Think about an NFL team with a strong running game that can eat the clock and beat their opponent into submission. That's Cantlay/Schauffele. I remain shocked that they can still be found at plus money to win this tournament. I have their true win probability comfortably above 50%.

I would be remiss not to mention team Burns/Horschel, who are absolutely a threat. They are the only team within five that really scares me, and they will most certainly be there on Sunday afternoon. I do believe the SEC duo are a more flawed team that Cantlay/Schauffele however. Horschel is still an extremely poor long iron player, and Burns has still missed four of his last seven cuts and remains the most volatile player of this bunch. It's very close to me between these two teams, and if Xander/Cantlay were minus odds, I would probably rock with the +600 on DraftKings sportsbook for Burns/Horschel via the OddsChecker golf grid. If I had to make a guess, Burns/Horschel will close the gap in better ball on Saturday, and then Cantlay/Schauffele will pull away in Sunday's alternate shot. If that theory is true, +600 on Burns/Horschel might be the best number we see all weekend.

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Ultimately though, I am going to ride with the team that I wagered pre-tournament would win. It's a very rare occurrence that I endorse the betting favorite to win with 36 holes to play, but I don't see this as a week to get cute. What I believe to be the best team in the field is already leading, they can still be found at plus money, their respective games are set up well for playing from ahead, and there are only seven teams within six strokes of them. Back Xander Schauffele/Patrick Cantlay to close the door in New Orleans.

Zurich Classic Picks

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Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from Manhattan, New York. Andy came to OddsChecker in January 2022 after previously writing for Golf Digest, GolfWRX, Rotoballer, and the Score. Andy is also the host of a golf betting and daily fantasy podcast, Inside Golf Podcast, as well as "The Scramble” with Rick Gehman, and a recurring guest on the Pat Mayo Experience. In his free time, Andy is still grinding away at his lifelong dream of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, and if not writing, can likely be found somewhere on a golf course.

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