Ben Coley’s golf betting tips: Zurich Classic of New Orleans preview and best bets

April 27, 2024

When the SanTi get rid of us all and try to learn about golf betting during the years 1997-2024, they’ll recognise that golden age, when Tiger Woods was now an occasional winner, when Scottie Scheffler was not yet a prolific one. Those were the days, my friends.

Scheffler will of course play poorly at some stage. In fact he might even be so far below his usual standards that he perhaps finishes, say, ninth, and does not even fill one of those places we’ve been left fighting for. But for now there’s no denying that betting on the PGA Tour presents what feels a lot like a problem without a solution.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Netflix series referenced above then I can only apologise for the tenor of this preview, but if you can’t be silly during the week of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, when can you be? Eric Cole is in on the joke, electing to play with his caddie’s 65-year-old dad just because, and we should be similarly unserious when we can.

To many, that attitude would extend to not having a bet and I don’t blame anyone for choosing to ignore this tournament. However, I happen to believe it’s a pretty good opportunity and a welcome break from the week-to-week rigour. The field is smaller than the one which assembled for the Masters and includes a similar number of no-hopers. Plus, Scheffler has gone home for the week.

It’s equally right to acknowledge that I got last year’s renewal wrong, writing: ‘I find it quite difficult to imagine any team made up of players yet to win on the PGA Tour doing so together.’ Davis Riley and Nick Hardy did just that, capitalising on a twist of fate after Hardy’s original partner, Thomas Detry, was asked to team up with another Ryder Cup hopeful in Victor Perez.

Still, in several other ways the pair did make some sense. Both were playing well, both clearly have a touch of class, they play a similar ball and, perhaps crucially, they had proven themselves in the format and at the course before. Riley had been fourth and Hardy’s previous appearance, while not quite so fruitful, had offered plenty of encouragement.

Above all else, since Cam Smith and Jonas Blixt won the first edition, there have been very few surprise names in the money. Combine a tricky, Pete Dye-designed TPC Louisiana with two rounds of foursomes, and weaknesses tend to be exposed.

Second last year and both PGA Tour winners, the Canadians are a straightforward selection. How anyone could conclude that they’ve an equal chance to say Doug Ghim and Chan Kim, for all the latter is in-form, I have no idea.

Neither man was a factor last week but it was a Signature Event, let’s not forget, and it’s been a strong season for both of them on the whole. Taylor won the Phoenix Open, beating Scheffler among others, while Hadwin has three top-10 finishes including one in high-class company.

As well as knowing each other well (they grew up in the same town and used to live together) and having shown what they can do when flying home for second last year, they have the added incentive of advertising their Presidents Cup credentials to Mike Weir, who named his vice captains on Monday.

We have some wider Dye form courtesy of Sawgrass, where Taylor sat second at halfway last month and Hadwin has a past top 10, and Hadwin even managed to finish 13th here when teaming up with Jim Knous a few years ago.

Taylor also has another top 10 in the Zurich Classic, his alongside Martin Laird, and together he and Hadwin make for an excellent duo who between them can make the putts required in four-balls, before hopefully keeping each other out of trouble in foursomes.

Odds of 40/1 from Coral, Ladbrokes, a couple of smaller firms and in one of bet365’s reduced places (three) mar