Ryan Palmer keeps teeing up World No. 1 partners at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, this year with Masters champ Scottie Scheffler

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It’s safe to say that Ryan Palmer was never afraid of approaching the prettiest girl in school and asking her to dance.

Since the Zurich Classic of New Orleans switched from the typical 72-hole stroke-play individual format to a two-man team competition in 2017, Palmer has partnered with Jordan Spieth (2017-18), Jon Rahm (2019, 2021) and this week, he will play with fellow Texas native, reigning World No. 1 and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler for the first time.

It’s led to some good-natured ribbing from his fellow pros, that Palmer, No. 86 in the world, has continued to upgrade partners the way some techies trade up for the latest-greatest model of a certain phone, as all three of Palmer’s partners have been ranked No. 1 in the world. Justin Thomas teased Palmer on Twitter, wondering what’s the average world ranking of his three partners in the event played annually at TPC Louisiana.

But Palmer, 45, wants to set the record straight on his partner-picking prowess.

“Word out there is I’m chasing ringers, but I kind of put it out there, they’re asking me to play,” he said.

To Scheffler, partnering with Palmer made all the sense in the world. He noted that they both work with the same trainer, Troy Van Zieben, and swing coach, Randy Smith, who teaches out Royal Oaks Golf Club, where Scheffler was a member, and play matches at home regularly with the likes of Spieth and former Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo. Palmer recalled meeting Scheffler when he was just in high school.

“I remember hitting balls, and he was 5 foot nothing,” Palmer said. “I’ll never forget when he came back from school, from Texas his freshman, sophomore year, and he was almost 6’2″, and I was like, my goodness, who’s this guy?”

Palmer, a 19-year Tour veteran who won the Zurich Classic alongside Rahm in 2019 for one of his four Tour titles, approached Scheffler about partnering up for the New Orleans staple in February after Rahm informed him that he was planning to skip the event this year. Scheffler had played with Bubba Watson previously, but Palmer knew that Watson was planning to join forces with Harold Varner III this time. Palmer also had a feeling that Scheffler would be itching to get back to work after the Masters and wouldn’t sit out until the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas next month.

“I knew he wouldn’t play in Hilton Head, wasn’t going to Mexico, wasn’t playing the week before the Nelson (at the Wells Fargo Championship), so I was like there’s no way he takes four weeks off. He can’t. That’s kind of how I put it,” Palmer explained. “The thing that really sealed it was I sent a picture of me and Jon with the trophy, but I (Photoshopped) his face on it.”

At the time, Scheffler had just notched his first victory at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He has since won four of his last six starts, the hottest stretch of golf since Jason Day achieved a similar run in 2015.

“It was pretty easy, when he asked me to play,” Scheffler said of pairing with Palmer. “It’s not like he started chasing me last Saturday.”

Palmer joked that Scheffler had to win twice.

“After he won twice, we firmed it up,” Palmer said. “That was the joke behind it. You’ve got to be a multiple winner for me to come to you.”

Scheffler’s torrid run was topped off by winning the Masters on April 10. Former President George Bush sent him a congratulatory letter, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott messaged him on social media and Olympian Michael Phelps mentioned him in an Instagram story. Scheffler has only worn his Green Jacket around the house.

“When my wife asks me to do stuff at home, sometimes I’ll grab it out of the closet and look at her, huh, really? It hasn’t worked yet,” he said.

After lounging around the house for five days, Scheffler started practicing for this week on Saturday and then celebrated Easter with his family.

“Monday I was just itching to get back out on the golf course,” he said. “So I guess Ryan was right, taking four weeks off in the middle of the season is too long for me.”