Gerald Herbert/Associated Press
Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith came out on top at the Zurich Classic, defeating Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel in a playoff on Sunday after both teams finished 72 holes knotted at 20-under at TPC at Louisiana in New Orleans.
Sunday’s outing was the second foursome round of the weekend after Friday was conducted in the same manner. Thursday and Saturday’s rounds used a best-ball format. That meant the win was a true joint effort, as the players alternated shots on each hole rather than playing their individual shots.
The playoff format forced both teams back to the No. 18 tee to play in an alternate shot format, where things were all but settled quickly as Oosthuizen sent the first ball off into the water.
After entering Saturday one stroke behind the South African pair, Leishman and Smith shot two-under through 18 holes to climb into contention before finishing out on top in the playoff on Sunday.
In an afternoon that saw both teams trade the lead, the Australians managed to break out of the tie with three holes left to play before securing the win in the playoff.
Both players earned their last wins in 2020, when Leishman claimed the Farmers Insurance Open title and Smith came away with the victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Zurich Classic 2021 Final Leaderboard and Prize Payouts
1. Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith (-20) $1,069,300
2. Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel (-20) $436,600
3. Richy Werenski, Peter Uihlein (-19) $285,825
T4. Billy Horschel, Sam Burns; Keith Mitchell, Brandt Snedeker; Keegan Bradley, Brendan Steele (-18) $209,666
7. Jon Rahm, Ryan Palmer (-17) $149,850
T8. Danny Willett, Tyrell Hatton; Thomas Pieters, Tom Lewis; Bubba Watson, Scottie Scheffler (-16) $116,550
Notables: Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay; Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose T11 (-15), Cameron Champ, Tony Finau T17 (-14), Graeme McDowell, Matt Wallace T23 (-12), Viktor Hovland, Kris Ventura T25 (-11)
Full leaderboard via PGA Tour
Prize payouts via Golf Digest
The Australian duo kept on the heels of the leaders throughout the front nine, then used a birdie on No. 9 to head around the turn with a share of the lead.
That share evaporated into a solo lead when the South African pair recorded a bogey on No. 10. The miss dropped them into a tie for second place with Mitchell and Snedeker.
Meanwhile, Leishman and Smith increased the distance, taking a two-stroke lead over the former leaders when they birdied on No. 11.
But a bogey on No. 13, when they took an unplayable after moving behind a tree, put them back down within one.
Rex Hoggard @RexHoggardGC
Leishman was asked about the tree in the 13th fairway this week: “I think it’s a good hole. I’m not normally a fan of trees in the middle of fairways, but I think the two that are in the middle of fairways out here are pretty good.”
His opinion might have changed after today.
They earned the same score on No. 15, a mistake that laid the foundation for Oosthuizen and Schwartzel to move back into first place with a birdie on the same hole.
The advantage didn’t last long. On No. 16, Leishman chipped it in for birdie to put the Australians back in contention with a share of the lead, and the leading squad couldn’t get past them as they finished their turn at the same hole with a par.
Both teams bogeyed the par three No. 17 and headed to the last hole tied at 20-under, eventually finishing with par to force the playoff.
Elsewhere, the team of Champ and Finau had a tough outing on Sunday, shooting a 5-over par to drop from contention and finish in a tie for 20th place.
Uihlein and Werenski shot an impressive 5-under round to climb 15 spots up the leaderboard on the final day of play.
The win makes Leishman and Smith exempt through the 2022-23 season and books their spot in the 2021 PGA Championship and the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions.