Ryan Palmer sure knows how to pick ’em.
In the five years that the Zurich Classic has been a two-man team event, the affable Texan hasn’t partnered with a player who was ranked outside the top 11 in the world rankings.
For the first two years, he rode shotgun with fellow Texan Jordan Spieth, who was ranked fifth and third, respectively, in 2017 and 2018.
The following year, he teamed up with then-world No. 11 Jon Rahm – and won. They also defended the title the next year, when Rahm had ascended all the way to No. 3.
And this year? All he’s done is hook up with Scottie Scheffler, the world No. 1, the hottest player in golf and the newly minted Masters champion.
The average world rank of those five partners: 4.6.
“Word out there is I’m chasing ringers, but I kind of put it out there – they’re asking me to play,” Palmer said Wednesday at TPC Louisiana. “I’ve been out here long enough. Maybe I can give a little veteran advice. I look at it as they’re playing with me, so I’ve got a little bit to add to it.”
Now in his 19th season on the PGA Tour, Palmer started looking for a new teammate earlier this year when Rahm told him that the Zurich wasn’t going to fit into his schedule. At the Genesis Invitational, Palmer talked about the possibility with Scheffler, who was then just a winless third-year Tour pro (albeit highly ranked and one of the game’s most intriguing talents).
The partnership made sense on a number of levels: Palmer, 45, has known Scheffler and his family since Scheffler was a 5-foot-nothin’ high school standout who was beating balls at Royal Oaks. For years they’ve shared the same swing coach (Randy Smith) and trainer (Dr. Troy Van Biezen). They work out together during the offseason; they often play with Jordan Spieth and Tony Romo. They run in the same social circles in Dallas.
“It was a pretty seamless decision,” Scheffler said.
But Palmer still had to seal the deal. In his head, he started mapping out Scheffler’s schedule: No Hilton Head, wasn’t traveling to Mexico, wouldn’t play another event before his home game at the Nelson.
“I was like, There’s no way he takes four weeks off. He can’t,” Palmer said. “That’s kind of how I put it [to him].
“But the thing that really sealed it was I sent a picture of me and Jon with the trophy, but I imposed his face on it. I think that got him.”
Perhaps another glitzy partner will be just the spark that Palmer needs to turn around his season. After back-to-back top-20s to start the calendar year, he has missed four cuts and failed to finish better than T-48 in the other two events. More than halfway through the season, he sits at No. 130 in the FedExCup race.