The Zurich Classic of New Orleans is the only sanctioned team event on the PGA Tour, which gives fans a little glimpse into the pros’ relationships with their peers as the two-man teams are announced.
While there are teams that simply make sense — Brooks and Chase Koepka, Davis and Dru Love, Scott Brown and Kevin Kisner — there are a handful of teams that require a backstory, which includes the 2019 champions Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer.
How does a 24-year-old Spaniard ranked No 11 in the world match up with a 42-year-old Texan who hasn’t won on Tour in nine years? The story is much more simple than one would think: Palmer simply asked first.
The pair played in the same group in the 2018 Zurich, albeit alongside different partners — Rahm played with Wesley Bryan and Palmer played with Jordan Spieth, Rahm and Palmer joked that they would make a better team than the ones the were currently playing on.
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Fast forward a few months, Bryan was sidelined with a shoulder injury and Spieth opted out of the 2019 edition, so Palmer took a shot at getting Rahm on his side.
“I shot him a text hoping he would bite,” Palmer said, according to GolfChannel.com. “When a 42-year-old player is calling him, he’s probably like, ‘Why does he want to play with me?’”
“I’m happy I said yes,” Rahm added.
“Our games complement each other so much, the way we drive the ball, our iron play,” Palmer said. “And there’s nothing better than missing greens knowing his short game is behind me.”
The duo opened with a solid 8-under par round in best ball in the first round, but it was their Friday 7-under par 65 in alternate shot that moved them into serious contention. Another solid day playing best ball on Saturday moved them into the 54-hole co-lead.
With the tricky alternate shot format ejecting their final group playing partners, Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax, Rahm and Palmer shot a solid 3-under par 69 to cruise to a three-shot victory.
Not surprisingly, the duo is looking to duplicate their magic in 2020. Apologies to their previous partners.
“Jordan and Wesley, sorry, we already have a partner for next year,” Rahm said.