Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood will draw on the memories of Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in Paris as they target another team triumph in the Zurich Classic.
Eighty two-man teams will compete for a first prize of just over USD 1million (£812,000) each in New Orleans, with fourballs played in the first and third round and foursomes on Friday and Sunday.
Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari became the first European pair to win all four matches together at Le Golf National, but with Molinari not playing this week Fleetwood has teamed up with the highest points scorer in Ryder Cup history instead.
“Fran is not speaking to me,” Fleetwood, who finished joint fourth with Chris Paisley last year, joked at a pre-tournament press conference. “No, he’s fine. He’s not fallen out with me too bad. But I might have some making up to do.
Race to Dubai
“I think when you’ve been through that (Ryder Cup) week together, you always have those memories and you always have that togetherness that you’ve all become that family for that week. No matter where you bump into one of your team-mates, you have that together.
“That’s been really cool for me, just that relationship, and that’s something that’s in common with all of us week in, week out. Not necessarily always a special moment, but just having that bond that you gain from having those weeks.”
Garcia, who won three of his four matches in Paris to surpass Nick Faldo’s points total and fully justify his selection as a wild card, added: “Obviously Ryder Cups are amazing and I’ve been fortunate to play a good amount, and the connection you get with the crowds and everything, it’s amazing.
“But to me the closeness that you get with your team-mates… I felt like I made some of my best friends in Ryder Cups. I knew Luke Donald before, but in the Ryder Cup by playing together and being a team, you get closer. You become closer.
“Same thing with (Lee) Westwood. Obviously I didn’t play with Tommy, but everything that you share in the team room and everything is just so special. It’s one of the things that I love the most about the Ryder Cup.”
Garcia and Fleetwood are the second favourites for the event behind the Australian pair of Adam Scott and Jason Day, who won the 2013 World Cup together, while three-time major winner Brooks Koepka will partner his brother Chase.
Scott Piercy and Billy Horschel return to defend the title they won by a shot last year from Jason Dufner and Pat Perez, who are also in the field.