World No. 2 ranked Justin Thomas, former PGA Tour rookie of the year Justin Berger commit to play at Zurich Classic
WORLD #2 JUSTIN THOMAS, 2017 PLAYER OF THE YEAR, TEAMS AGAIN WITH FELLOW ‘BAMA ALUM BUD CAULEY IN 2018 ZURICH CLASSIC
2015 PGA TOUR rookie of the year Daniel Berger pairs with Gary Woodland
NEW ORLEANS — Justin Thomas, 2017 PGA TOUR Player of the Year and currently ranked second in the world, will team again with fellow University of Alabama alum Bud Cauley to play the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, announced Steve Worthy, CEO of the Fore!Kids Foundation, producer of the tournament.
“We welcome Justin and Bud back to our tournament after their successful performance last year and excellent starts to the current season,” said Worthy. “Daniel Berger and Gary Woodland will also be a formidable team, as both are highly ranked and are explosive players,” Worthy added.
Thomas is off to a torrid start this season after posting a historic year in 2016-17, when he won five tournaments, including the PGA Championship. So far this season, he has already won twice and finished second in a playoff for the WGC-Mexico Championship after he holed a 119-yard pitch on the 18th hole Sunday to take the lead. He sat 11 strokes behind the lead on Friday, then went 16-under on the weekend to match the 36-hole record for the tournament.
He finished last season ranked first in both FedExCup points and money winnings, and currently holds the same position at the top of both lists this season.
His second place at the WGC-Mexico Championship moved him up to second in the world. In the eight tournaments he has entered this season, he has placed in the top 25 in every one.
During the Sony Open in 2017, he became the youngest player in TOUR history to break 60, when he carded a 59 in the first round on his way to a runaway seven-stroke victory.
A native of Louisville, KY, he led the University of Alabama to the NCAA championship in 2013, his sophomore year. He was named a first-team All-American in 2012, when he won the Phil Mickelson Award as the top collegiate freshman to go with the 2012 Haskins Award and 2012 Nicklaus Award, presented annually to the top college player.
As an amateur, he played on the 2013 Walker Cup and the 2012 World Amateur Team Championship. He made the 2017 Presidents Cup team after his third year on the PGA TOUR.
Thomas, who will turn 25 during the Zurich Classic, finished tied for fifth with teammate Cauley in last year’s tournament, the first time the team format had been played in a regular season PGA TOUR event since 1981.
Cauley also played for the University of Alabama and earned his PGA TOUR card off of the non-member money list in just eight starts. Only six other players earned their PGA TOUR card straight from college without having to go to the Qualifying School, including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
His best finishes this season have been a tie for seventh in the Safeway Open and a tie for eighth in The RSM Classic. Prior to last year’s tie for fifth, his previous best score in the Zurich Classic tournament came in 2014, when he placed 11th.
Thomas and Cauley boasted undefeated records in Walker Cup team play as amateurs. Thomas went 2-0-1 on the 2013 team, and Cauley posted a record of 3-0-1 in the 2009 match, both won by the U.S.
Daniel Berger and Gary Woodland have formed a new team for the 2018 Zurich Classic after playing last year with different partners.
Berger, ranked 32nd in the world, has two PGA TOUR wins—both at the FedEx St. Jude Classic—in his short career after earning Rookie of the Year honors in 2015.
His best finishes this season include a tie for 11th in the Sentry Tournament of Champions and Waste Management Phoenix Open and a tie for 14th in the Sony Open and the WGC-Mexico Championship. He also earned a tie for 24th in the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.
He made the collegiate Palmer Cup team in 2013, when he attended Florida State. In his first appearance on the Presidents Cup team in 2017, he posted a 2-1 record and became the youngest player and first rookie to clinch the winning point for the victorious U.S. squad.
Woodland has won three times on the PGA TOUR, including this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open in a playoff with Chez Reavie. He also finished tied for seventh in this season’s Sony Open.
He won the 2011 OMEGA Mission Hills World Cup teamed with Matt Kuchar, who will play the 2018 Zurich Classic with Bubba Watson.
Woodland’s best finish in the Zurich Classic was a tie for 20th in 2016.
He is currently ranked 28thh in the world and finished 12th in FedExCup points last season.
When he played for University of Kansas, he won four collegiate tournaments, including the 2007 Louisiana Classic.
The Zurich Classic is the only team tournament on the PGA TOUR season. This year’s 72-hole stroke team play format will feature Four-Ball (best ball) during the first and third rounds and Foursomes (alternate shot) during the second and fourth rounds. The starting field will consist of 80 teams. Following the conclusion of the second round, the field will be cut to the low 35 teams and ties. In case of a tie after 72 holes, there will be a sudden-death playoff using the Four-Ball format.
About Fore!Kids Foundation:
Since 1958, the Fore!Kids Foundation has raised money to fund children’s service organizations through golf events like the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Taste of the Tournament gala and several charitable golf tournaments. As a 501(c)(3) corporation, Fore!Kids has helped to raise more than $34 million to date for children’s charities in metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge. More information at www.forekidsfoundation.com.
About the Zurich Classic of New Orleans:
Televised in more than 224 countries and territories, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans generates a significant economic impact on the city of New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana. Independent research has shown that the tournament generates spending of more than $40 million within the local economy and garners $33 million in positive national and international media exposure for both the city and state throughout the year beyond the four days of competition.
The tournament will be played April 23-29, 2018 at TPC Louisiana in Westwego. Purse for 2018 totals $7.2 million, with each member of the winning team earning $1,036,800.
Single-day grounds tickets are only $35 and weekly passes are $85. Single day tickets for the two most popular hospitality venues on the PGA TOUR start at $85 for Acme Oyster House and $185 for The Champions Club. Other choices of suite and specialty venue options are available by calling the Tournament Office at 504-342-3000 or online at www.zurichgolfclassic.com.
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