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Power Rankings: QBE Shootout

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Power Rankings

    Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf

    In one way or another, the QBE Shootout has been a home for the holiday break since 1989. Originally contested in November and between seasons since its inception, it transitioned to its current slot in December when the FedExCup was introduced in 2007.

    Twelve two-person teams are assembled at Tiburón Golf Club’s Gold Course in Naples, Florida. The three-round, 54-hole competition begins on Friday.

    Scroll past the full-field projections below for an explanation of the format, details of the host course and more.


    No. 12K.H. Lee & Brandt SnedekerLee has settled into a groove since breaking through at the AT&T Byron Nelson in May, and Sneds is a former winner here (2015), but alternate shot could upend both average iron games.
    No. 11Lexi Thompson & Bubba WatsonThompson surged to conclude her season on the LPGA. Watson hasn’t competed for 3½ months. Both are experienced on the Gold Course, and with some success, just not as teammates. Yet.
    No. 10
    Brian Harman & Hudson SwaffordThe Georgia alums can’t avenge what happened on the gridiron on Saturday, but they can ease the sting in their premiere as partners at Tiburón. Harman won in 2018. Swafford is a first-timer.
    No. 9
    Max Homa & Kevin KisnerJust a couple of relatable rock stars of social media who are answering the wish of the masses to lock arms at Tiburón. Newcomer Homa is Kisner’s fourth teammate in five editions.
    No. 8
    Sean O’Hair & Will Zalatoris“Hello?” … “Hey, Sean. This is the QBE Shootout, you know, where you’ve won twice. Steve Stricker is ill and can’t play. Will Zalatoris will replace him as your teammate. That OK?” … “Let’s go!”
    No. 7
    Ian Poulter & Charles Howell III
    A couple veterans who hail from different sides of the Atlantic but are longtime Orlando residents. We know what Poulter’s putter can do in team events.
    No. 6
    Ryan Palmer & Matt Jones
    Jones has a win in Florida this year, at the Honda Classic, and Palmer is a former Zurich Classic champ with Jon Rahm.
    No. 5
    Jason Day & Marc LeishmanNeither Aussie is a first-timer, but this is their debut as a team. Day hasn’t appeared since prevailing (with Cameron Tringale) in 2014. Leishman has enjoyed a really solid 2021.
    No. 4
    Corey Conners & Graeme McDowellThe dangerous wildcard among the nine first-time collaborations. The soaring Conners becomes G-Mac’s seventh different partner in nine appearances. Three yielded runner-up finishes.
    No. 3
    Jason Kokrak & Kevin NaCompelling connection. Kokrak won in last start in Houston. Na has rested a sore rib for seven weeks. Combined, they have three podium finishes in as many tries here, but neither has prevailed.
    No. 2
    Sam Burns & Billy HorschelFirepower is real with this dynamic duo. The white-hot Burns, a debutant, is an early favorite to win the 2021-22 FedExCup, while Horschel has been a regular here since his 2013 debut.
    No. 1
    Harris English & Matt KucharThe title is theirs to lose, but it doesn’t happen often. Thrice champions (2013, 2016, 2020) and twice runners-up (2014, 2015), targets are emblazoned on their backs.

    Don’t let the hits and giggles of the QBE Shootout distract you, this competition is serious business. A purse of $3.6 million is reserved and there is no cut. Happy holidays, indeed.

    OK, so prize money truly is a bonus to the fun, but the focus will be on how a world-class field attacks the stock par 72 in its 21st turn as host.

    Since 2001, the Gold Course has hosted alone every year except when the other 18-hole test at Tiburón, the Black Course, contributed nine holes in 2014 (in response to a turf issue). The LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship is held on the Black. The most recent staging was just three weeks ago.

    That the Gold stretches to 7,382 yards is more fact than friction due to the format.

    For Friday’s opening round, scoring will be determined in a traditional scramble. So, both members of every team will have up to two swings from the same spot until either holes out.

    Saturday’s second round will consist of modified alternate shot. Every golfer will tee off on every hole, but teammates will alternate finishing the hole on the same ball. This is the day when scores should be highest.

    The structure of the finale on Sunday is four-ball; that is, all golfers play their own ball throughout every hole and only the lower score among teammates is recorded as the team’s score for the hole.

    A year ago, Matt Kuchar and Harris English converted on their third QBE Shootout title with a tournament record of 37-under 179. Their second-round 61 in modified alternate shot was five better than the next-best score. They’d go on to post a field-low 60 in four-ball and win by nine.

    Ideal weather is expected throughout. Daytime temperatures will rise into the mid-80s through Saturday before a ever-so-gradual cooling on Sunday. Winds will be light beneath passing clouds.

    Conditions will allow for Tiburón to play as prepped. Inside the four-inch bahiagrass that helps frame the routing, there’s only one cut of Celebration bermudagrass from tee to green. There is no rough, but waste bunkers yawn across the property. Expansive greens consist of TifEagle bermuda measuring up to 12 feet on the Stimpmeter.

    NOTE: PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf will resume with the Sentry Tournament of Champions on Jan. 6-9.