With the regular PGA Tour season on break until the Tournament of Champions the first week of January, the last competition of any kind in the states is the QBE Shootout, which begins Friday. The unofficial event is the last survivor of the Silly Season events that used to populate the golf calendar this time of year.
The event was started by Greg Norman back in 1989 and was originally called the Shark Shootout, played in Southern California at Sherwood Country Club. It moved to the Norman-designed Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida in 2001.
The unique event features two-golfer teams playing three rounds of different formats. The first day on Friday is a scramble, where the two players play a shot and the best one is chosen for the next shot until the ball is in the hole.
Saturday will be a modified alternate shot. Golfers play a shot and then their teammate plays the next shot. On Sunday the format is better ball. Both play their own shot and the best score is recorded.
The team of Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Na are favored to win at 5/1.
Last year the unlikely pairing of Steve Stricker and Sean O’Hair won the event. The duo had won previous QBE Shootouts with other partners. Stricker won with Jerry Kelly in 2009, while O’Hair took home the trophy with Kenny Perry.
When the chance came to team up with Stricker, O’Hair jumped at it, saying last year it was a unique experience.
“This is always a great event to finish the year off with, and to pull this off is special,” O’Hair said. “But to do it with Steve is even that much better for me. I’m a golf geek, so he’s a friend of mine, but still it’s kind of hard not to look at him and kind of put him a little bit up on a pedestal.”
One of the most unusual pairings is Tony Finau and LPGA star Lexi Thompson. The duo teamed up last year and finished fourth. They are 16/1 to win this year.
To be able to be paired with Tony is great, we had so much fun last year,” Thompson said. “To watch his game is such a huge honor. It’s great to play with him and to be invited back.”
Despite the tournament being unofficial, it is a strong field, with 12 of the 24 players in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings.
One player that isn’t in the top 50 because of rehabbing from a bad back is Luke Donald. The 41-year-old missed six months in 2018, but is returning to this event to see where his game is at.
“The state of the game is unknown,” Donald said. “We’ll see. I’ve been able to work hard the last couple months with no pain. I’ve certainly been putting in the time, but to bring it from your home course out here into a competitive situation, we’ll see how it goes.”
He is paired with Andrew Landry and the duo is listed last at 30/1.