NAPLES, Fla. – Harold Varner and Ryan Palmer combined to make 15 birdies, didn’t make a bogey and put their signatures to a 15-under-par 57 in Friday’s first round of the QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club.
And they don’t have the lead.
It was that kind of day – triggered mostly by the scramble format – that led to eye-popping scores among the 12 two-man teams. With little wind and both players hitting tee shots, then taking the best shot and both hitting from there, and so on, the 12 teams combined to average 59.5.
Leading the way was Kevin Na and Sean O’Hair, who made 12 birdies and two eagles to come home with a 56, just one shot off the tournament record in the scramble format.
Yet they’re just one shot ahead of Varner/Palmer and just two clear of the teams of Lanto Griffin/Mackenzie Hughes and Matt Kuchar/Harris English. Two teams – defending champions Kevin Tway/Rory Sabbatini and Tony Finau/Cameron Champ – each shot the magical 59 and trail by three shots.
“Obviously we would have taken 58 before we started, but we feel like we left a couple out there and that’s probably good going into tomorrow, it didn’t feel like we stole the whole day,” Griffin said. “I think we’ll be hungry (Saturday) and we’ll have a little different format.”
Palmer smiled when asked if it felt goofy to shoot 57 and still trail by one. But he wasn’t shocked considering the format and the caliber of players.
“You have to go low, especially in this format,” Palmer said. “We left a couple out there. We had 105 on 15 and made par. We had a 12‑, 15‑footer for eagle on 17 that was pretty makeable and missed.
“It wasn’t that easy. It’s playing longer because how soft it is, a little breeze. You’ve still got to play some pretty good golf to get there.”
Scores won’t be as low in Saturday’s second round as the format changes to modified scramble. O’Hair, who is looking to win this tournament for the third time with a third different partner – he won with Steve Stricker in 2017 and with Kenny Perry in 2012 – said the key to victory can be found on the greens.
“You have to putt well,” he said. “If you don’t putt well, if you don’t make putts, you’re going to finish in the bottom of the pack in this event. So you know guys are going to bring it. Tomorrow’s a tough format, the toughest format, but I think as long as we just keep it in play and make a few putts, we’ll be right there come Sunday.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/11/qbe-shootout-shoot-57-trail/