Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer won the Zurich Classic on Friday, but they had to wait until Sunday to get the trophy. The duo shot 64-65-64 to open the team event in New Orleans before closing with a nerve-less 69 on Sunday for a 26-under total and a three-stroke victory over Tommy Fleetwood and Sergio Garcia.
A 64 on Thursday in best ball is nothing to get super excited about, but a 65 on Friday in alternate shot play? That was the best alternate shot round of the entire tournament, and it gave them the cushion they needed as teams tried to run them down late in the final round. It didn’t hurt that Rahm and Palmer — two tremendous strikers of the ball — made every putt they looked at coming home either. Here’s a look at the distance of the putts they made on the back nine alone on Sunday, which they played in 3-under 33 for the three-stroke victory.
- 14 feet (birdie)
- 7 feet
- 6 feet
- 3 feet (birdie)
- 11 feet (birdie)
- 24 feet
- 5 feet
- 3 feet
- 1 foot
An emotional Palmer embraced Rahm after the round as Palmer picked up his first victory on the PGA Tour since winning the 2010 Sony Open.
“It’s so fun when you’re playing with a guy who can hit it as good as he does,” Palmer told CBS Sports’ Peter Kostis. “When I’m hitting it as well as I can, it makes for a lot of fun golf.”
“That first day [of alternate shot] we both played amazing, made putts,” added Rahm. “That’s why our score was so low. Today I felt a little carried because I was carried for the better part of the first few holes.”
Rahm and Palmer were pushed on the leaderboard by some world class duos, but their nearly flawless back nine on Sunday paired with a really special first three days delivered not only Palmer’s first win in a decade but Rahm’s third in the last three years. He joined Dustin Johnson (eight wins), Bryson DeChambeau (five) and Brooks Koepka (four) as the only golfers to win in each of the last three seasons. Still he deflected the glory to his newfound teammate.
“This is a very special one,” Rahm told Kostis. “It’s very special for Ryan. I’m really excited to be able to share it with him because he definitely earned it today.” Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2019 Zurich Classic.
Tommy Fleetwood-Sergio Garcia (2nd): It was everything I wanted from two of the elite ball-strikers of the last few decades. Their strength, as I presumed it would be, was in the alternate shot portion of the event as they posted 68-68 on Friday and Sunday, both of which were among the best scores of each day. They got close late, but were ultimately clipped by a pretty unbelievable performance from the duo I mentioned off the top. “Tommy played unbelievable,” Garcia told Amanda Balionis of CBS Sports after their round before calling their last 18 holes together, “One of the easiest 68s in foursomes ever shot.” Yes, put that in my veins. I hope these two Ryder Sup stars team up for more in the future. Grade: A
Brooks Koepka-Chase Koepka (T22): The brothers Koepka were actually in the hunt until a 74 on Sunday upended them. So the question everyone wants to know, of course, is how much three-time major winner Brooks carried them over the four round event. Let’s go to the tape.
- Brooks Koepka in Rounds 1 and 3 (four ball): 11 birdies, 1 eagle
- Chase Koepka in Rounds 1 and 3 (four ball): 3 birdies
So yes, he kind of carried them a lot. Now could Chase’s potential birdies have been covered up by Brooks? Sure, I didn’t watch every shot they hit or every hole they played. But I think in looking a their cards, it poses some pretty interesting qualification issues for the future of this event. Grade: B
Jason Day-Adam Scott (MC): It’s not very often that the favorite(s) in an event miss the cut, but Day-Scott opened with 65-72 to miss it at 7 under. Anything can happen on the weekend — Sam Horsfield and Ian Poulter were one stroke better than Day-Scott over the first two rounds, and they finished top 10 — so I don’t know that it’s worth getting real fired up about this Australian failure. But it was still a disappointment to see the betting favorite and one of just five teams in the field to include two players who have major championships not play the weekend. Grade: F
Check out the rest of the 2019 Zurich Classic leaderboard.