Five of top 6 players in world to compete in star-laden Zurich Classic next week | Jeff Duncan

An unprecedented array of stars will play in this year’s Zurich Classic, which tees off next week at the TPC of Louisiana in Avondale.

Five of the top six players in the world will compete for the record $ 8.3 million purse at this year’s tournament.

Among the stars in the field of 80 two-man teams:

• No. 1-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion. Scheffler has won four of the past six tournaments he’s entered and has held the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Rankings for the past three weeks.

• No. 2 Collin Morikawa, who has been ranked in the top 3 all season and has four top 10 finishes on his resume this year.

• No. 4 Viktor Hovland, who has five top 10 finishes this season and will team with Morikawa to form the highest-ranked team in Zurich history.

• No. 5 Cameron Smith, who has two wins and four top 10 finishes in six events and will team with fellow Australian Marc Leishman to defend their 2021 title.

• No. 6 Patrick Cantlay, who has five top 10 finishes in eight events this year and has been ranked no lower than sixth all season.

In all, the field boasts nine of the top 15 players in the world and 21 of the top 50, two more than last year’s field. Ten former champions are in the field, including Bubba Watson and two-time champ Billy Horschel.

The fields boasts eight former Majors champions: Morikawa (US Open); Smith, Jason Day (The Players Championship); Shane Lowry, Henrik Stensen (British Open); and Scheffler, Sergio Garcia and Danny Willet (Masters).

The field did lose one star when Louis Oosthuizen was forced to withdraw from the event. The longtime South African standout has a back injury which caused him to withdraw from the Masters last week after the first round.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout replaced Oosthuizen and will team with fellow South African Charl Swartzel.

Nevertheless, the Zurich field will again boast a strong international flavor, with players representing Norway (Hovland), Australia (Smith, Leishman), Chile (Niemann), England (Willett, Tyrell Hatton, Justin Rose), South Korea (Sungjae Im) , Ireland (Lowry) and Spain (Garcia).

This year’s purse is nearly $ 1 million more than it was a year ago, with each member of the winning team taking home $ 1,199,350.

This year’s tournament will feature the alternating formats that were introduced at last year’s event, with four-ball (best ball) played during the first and third rounds on Thursday and Saturday and foursomes (alternate shot) during the second and fourth rounds on Friday and Sunday.

One noticeable difference for players and fans at the TPC’s 7,465-yard course will be hole No. 11, which will no longer feature the 105-foot bald cypress tree strategically located in the fairway in front of the green. The tree was one of about 1,000 on the course felled by Hurricane Ida last August.

Tournament director Steve Worthy, the CEO of the Fore! Kids Foundation which runs the event, said last month the Zurich sold out its corporate inventory earlier than ever this year and hopes to improve upon last year’s record $ 2.3 million in donations to local and regional children’s charities.

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