(Reuters) - Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer made an odd pairing but proved a perfect match in teaming up to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans by three strokes on Sunday.
Spaniard Rahm and American Palmer carded an assured final-round three-under-par 69 in the unforgiving alternate shot foursomes format in demanding conditions on the bone-dry TPC Louisiana layout.
They finished at 26-under 262, while the team of Sergio Garcia and Tommy Fleetwood jumped into second place with an excellent 68.
It is the third PGA Tour victory for 24-year-old Rahm, and the fourth for 42-year-old Palmer, who ended a nine-year drought.
Separated by 18 years — one a laid-back Texan and the other a fiery Spaniard — they would seem an unlikely pair, but Palmer could hardly have made a better choice when he asked Rahm to partner him.
“It’s very special for Ryan and I’m really excited to share it with him,” Rahm said in a greenside interview as Palmer teared up.
“He definitely earned it today. He’s a great guy and I couldn’t be prouder. He played a lot of good golf today.”
Palmer played well early on, while Rahm clicked into gear on the back nine, sinking a 13-foot birdie putt at the 10th hole that prompted a round of applause from his partner.
Palmer returned the favour by coaxing in a seven-foot par-saver at the next and they were never headed after that.
“My putting was there today,” Palmer said. “These greens got a little baked out and crusty but I hit some fabulous putts.
“Man, what a day. It’s so fun when you’re playing with a guy who can hit it as good as he (Rahm) does and when I hit it as well as I can, it makes for a lot of fun golf.”
Rahm and Palmer are both credited with an official victory but do not get any world ranking points due to the team format.
Rahm has also won three times on the European Tour.
Spaniard Garcia and Englishman Fleetwood were the only pair to put any pressure on the leaders but had too much ground to make up.
Garcia praised his Ryder Cup team mate.
“Tommy played unbelievable,” he said. “It was so much fun to watch.”
Fleetwood said accurate driving was the key to their strong round.
“We didn’t miss a fairway today except for the first, so the ball we could control it as much as possible and even then it was difficult,” said the player with a perfect 4-0-0 in his Ryder Cup debut last year.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary in North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris