QBE Shootout Preview
A SELECT group of 24 professionals arrive at Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, southwest Florida with their wheelbarrows in tow to collect a nice little bit of end-of-season Christmas spending money at the QBE Shootout, hosted by Greg Norman. Incredibly, $3.3m will be up for grabs.
Matt Kuchar and Harris English are the defending champions and will be looking for their third success in what is essentially a fun event that will bring the curtain down on the year for the PGA Tour. A total of 15 of the top 50 male golfers in the world will be in the field, along with Lexi Thompson, the first woman to play in the event more than once – she will partner Tony Finau, who is taking part for the first time.
The tournament features nine new teams and three repeat pairings, with English and Kuchar attempting to become the first team to win it three times, Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele were victorious in 2011 and Kevin Chappell and Kevin Kisner will pair up for the second year in a row.
“With the combination of nine new and exciting teams, strong repeat duos and outstanding defending champions, this year’s competition should be stellar. It will be exciting to watch these dynamic pairings as they work together in an effort to win the 29th QBE Shootout,” Tournament Host Greg Norman said.
The criteria for players qualifying for the 24-person field was adjusted this year to accurately reflect today’s PGA TOUR standards. The field is comprises the defending champions playing as a team, the top 12 committed professionals from the final 2017 FedExCup standings and 10 special exemptions; a minimum of four which come from the top 40 on the PGA Tour Career money list.
The event will feature a scramble format during the first round, a modified alternate shot format on Saturday and a final-round better ball on Sunday.
While the players are primarily there to have fun, this is one of many tournaments that raises a great deal of money for charity, with CureSearch for Children’s Cancer the primary charitable beneficiary. Additionally, to support the relief efforts of Hurricane Irma, the QBE Shootout has launched a hurricane relief fund to support the local recovery efforts. Since 1989, the Shootout has raised more than $13m for charitable causes.
Nobody really cares who wins, but these are the 12 pairings.
Harris English-Matt Kuchar
The pair to beat. Since first being paired together they have finished first in 2013, second in 2014, second in 2015 and first in 2016, each earning $1,255,000 total in the last four years. Last year they became the third team in tournament history to win twice. Their seven-shot margin of victory in 2013 was the largest in tournament history.
Brandt Snedeker-Bubba Watson
Two returning individuals who are playing together for the first time. Snedeker, who has spent much of the past year battling injury, won in 2015 with Jason Dufner. Snedeker, the 2012 FedExCup champion is paired with Watson, who had a miserable time on the course in 2017. Between them, they have 17 PGA Tour career victories as well as significant Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experience.
Charley Hoffman-Zach Johnson
Two of the 18 players who will be returning to the tournament but will be partners for the first time. They have 16 career wins on the PGA Tour—Johnson with 12, including two majors, and Hoffman with four. Hoffman participated in his first Presidents Cup this year, while Johnson has been a member of nine Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams.
Kevin Chappell-Kevin Kisner
One of three returning teams this year and both winners during the 2017 season. They finished fourth last year. Chappell enjoyed his first PGA Tour win at the Valero Texas Open and made his first appearance in the Presidents Cup. Kisner’s first victory at the 2015 RSM Classic was by six strokes over Chappell, the runner-up, and this year he claimed the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.
Tony Finau-Lexi Thompson
Both players have been consistently ranked among the top-five in driving distance on the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour respectively. Finau averages around 321 yards and Thompson around 274, so she is not going to be intimidated by anybody in the field. Finau is making his debut in the Shootout while Thompson returns after playing with Bryson DeChambeau last year. Finau, 28, and Thompson, 22, are the youngest team in the field.
Daniel Berger-Gary Woodland
A combined five years of experience at the QBE Shootout but paired together for the first time. Both hit the ball a country mile and have two career victories on the PGA Tour. Berger, the 2015 Rookie of the Year, recorded his best individual finish here with a third place in 2015 and Woodland’s best was a fifth in the same year.
Jason Dufner-Billy Horschel
Dufner is a former US PGA champion and Horschel a FedExCup champion. They are playing together for the first time but have a combined nine years' experience in the Shootout. Dufner’s best was a victory in 2015 with Snedeker. Horschel, who will celebrate his 31st birthday during tournament week (December 7), has never finished outside the top five, including a pair of third place finishes, one of those last year with Hoffman.
Brian Harman-Pat Perez
Two new participants in the QBE Shootout and both winners during the 2017 season. Perez, winner of the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in November last year and the CIMB Classic last month is enjoying the best form of his life. Harman holed out a 28-foot birdie putt on the final hole to prevent a playoff with Perez and Dustin Johnson to win the Wells Fargo Championship this year.
Russell Henley-Kyle Stanley
Another pair of first-time participants in the tournament who both won this year. Henley picked up his third career title at the Shell Houston Open and Stanley earned his second career title with a playoff win at the Quicken Loans in July. Henley is one of the most determined players on Tour, while Stanley is one of the best putters.
Sean O’Hair-Steve Stricker
These two veterans of the QBE Shootout will be playing together for the first time. O’Hair has played six times prior to this year and won in 2012 with Kenny Perry. Stricker will be playing in his 10th Shootout—the most by any individual in the field—having won also with long-time partner Jerry Kelly in 2009. Last year, Stricker and Kelly finished second.
Keegan Bradley-Brendan Steele
The 2011 QBE Shootout champions have not played together since finishing 7th in 2012 during their title defense. Bradley enjoyed a welcome return to form, with five top-10 finishes during the 2016-17 season, including finishing runner-up at the 2017 CIMB Classic. Steele enjoyed an outstanding past year with two victories, including the recent Safeway Open.
Shane Lowry-Graeme McDowell
The Irishmen will be flying the flag for Europe in a partnership they will hope to revive at the Ryder Cup next year. McDowell, one of six major champions in the field, will be making his sixth appearance and his first since 2015. His best finish was a second with Darren Clarke in 2010. Meanwhile, Lowry, the winner of a World Golf Championship in 2015, is making his Shootout debut. The last international team to win the Shootout was the all-Australian pairing of Greg Norman and Steve Elkington way back in 1998.
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