It may be a team event, but a Zurich win could be life-changing for these pros

Several golfers can take advantage of the two-year exemption for winning the Zurich Classic.

Several golfers can take advantage of the two-year exemption for winning the Zurich Classic.

Getty Images

The Zurich Classic may be different from every other PGA Tour event but a win counts just the same. And that includes all that comes with one.

Each member of the winning team of the Tour’s only team event on the schedule receives exempt status on the PGA Tour for the remainder of this year and the following two seasons, 400 FedEx Cup points, exemptions into next year’s Designated events and $1,242,700.

Those perks (aside from the money and FedEx Cup points) might not mean much to defending champions and stars Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay, who enter the final round six shots back of leaders Beau Hossler and Wyndham Clark (-26), but it means everything to other contenders.

Thanks to the format switching to the more volatile alternate shot for the final round, a large comeback is perhaps also more likely in this tournament than others.

One contender is only even in the field this week thanks to the unique format. Below are five players who could have a career-changing win Sunday if their teams prevail.

Alex Fitzpatrick (playing with Matt Fitzpatrick, T7 -21)

Unlike the rest of this list, Fitzpatrick is not currently a PGA Tour member. He’s playing this week as a sponsor exemption in order to partner with his brother, U.S. Open and last week’s winner, Matt Fitzpatrick.

A win would change things considerably for the 24-year-old European Challenge Tour member. He would automatically become a PGA Tour member, bypassing the Korn Ferry Tour and Q-School on his way to the big stage.

Even if the Fitzpatrick brothers were able to rally and finish second, the 162.5 non-member FedEx Cup points Alex would get would be just less than 13 points from earning special temporary membership. A special temporary member can accept unlimited sponsors exemptions while a non-member has only seven to gain enough non-member points.

The brothers enter the final round four off the lead at 21 under after a third-round 62 in four-ball.

“I’ve had some decent results so far this year, and that kind of gave me some confidence coming into this,” Alex said after the third round. “There are stakes, but at the same time, we’ve got nothing to lose. We’re coming out and enjoying ourselves. If we play well, great. If we don’t, it’s not the end of the world.”

The team shot 71 Friday in alternate shot after also shooting 62 in the first round.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m not worried about this week for Alex,” Matt said. “I’ve seen him out there now. He can hold his own. He can definitely be out here.”

A fifth-place finish or better would also get Alex into the Mexico Open next week.

Brandon Matthews (Playing with Sean O’Hair, 6 -22)

Brandon Matthews of the United States reacts to his putt on the 18th green during the third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 22, 2023 in Avondale, Louisiana.
Brandon Matthews could be in for a big payday Sunday. Getty Images

The dichotomy of where these partners with ties to the Keystone State are in their careers cannot be understated.

O’Hair, 40, is a four-time PGA Tour winner, the last of which came 12 years ago at the RBC Canadian Open and only has conditional status on the PGA Tour as a past champion.

Meanwhile, the long-hitting, 28-year-old Matthews is in his rookie season on the PGA Tour after earning his card on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Both players could dearly use the automatic two-year membership to secure their job status, but with O’Hair’s days ranking inside the world top 20 potentially behind him, Matthews stands to benefit the most.

Matthews spent parts of six years on different tours, trying to work his way up to the PGA Tour after graduating from Temple and now he has a chance for two-plus years of job security.

The duo shot 64 Saturday and will start the final round four back. They shot 69 in alternate shot on Friday.

Nick Hardy (Playing with Davis Riley, T3 -23)

You may remember the former Illinois standout for being just two shots off the lead at last summer’s U.S. Open through 36 holes.

Hardy ended up finishing T14 at Brookline, but it was just his second event after a wrist injury forced him to take two months off after last year’s Zurich Classic.

He didn’t end up staying in the top 125 of the FedEx Cup standings but was able to re-earn his membership through the Korn Ferry Tour finals. He also was granted a major medical extension, improving his status on the priority list for the remainder of the season.

Still, those benefits mean nothing if Hardy, currently 95th in the FedEx Cup standings, can’t stay inside the top 125 again.

A win at the same event where his rookie season nearly ended and he won’t have to worry for the next two-and-a-half years with his status secured. Not only that, but the $1,242,700 first-place prize would nearly double his $675,808 career PGA Tour earnings.

“Just having a chance means a lot, and I’m going to relish the opportunity,” Hardy said.

Hardy and Riley are three back and shot 66 in the first alternate shot round.

Vincent Norrman and Matthias Schwab (T3 -23)

Matthias Schwab of Austria and Vincent Norrman of Sweden on the 18th green during the third round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 22, 2023 in Avondale, Louisiana.
Matthias Schwab (L) and Vincent Norrman on the 18th green during the third round of the Zurich Classic. Getty Images

While Schwab already has a season on the PGA Tour under his belt, Norrman is a rookie this season on the PGA Tour and hasn’t shown that he has a chance at sticking for another year so far.

Both players are outside the top 125 on the FedEx Cup standings entering this week, with Norrman all the way at 168th.

Schwab collected his first top-10 of the year last month at the Corales Puntacana Championship, but he nabbed three a year ago in his rookie season.

Both members of the European duo could use the two-year exemption with the win, but it would also have to put them on the radar for Luke Donald’s European Ryder Cup team.

Schwab and Norrman are also three back and fired a 67 Friday.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at



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