Fishing Buddies Win QBE Shootout Prior to PGA Break
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
The 2018 PGA Calendar year has wrapped up until early January as the QBE Shootout was won by two fishing buddies from Alabama. Patton Kizzire, Brian Harman won Greg Norman’s signature event that features a team format over the course of three days. Favorites in the 24-golfer field fell to the wayside as the two players that have known each other since they were twelve won during the final round.
That final round was played using a “four-ball” format which Kizzire and Harman carded a near perfect round using their irons for closing the door. The two players went seven-under on the back nine of the Gold Course at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Florida while finishing the day at eleven-under par 61.
The team of Graeme McDowell and Emiliano Grillo mounted the biggest challenge as they closed in during the final few holes following a rough front-nine for the eventual winners. Now even, McDowell and Grillo were unable to take full advantage of the opportunity after Kizzire sunk a long putt which put them a stroke up heading towards the end.
McDowell and Grillo could not make up the stroke as Kizzire and Harman ended with a birdie on the final hole for the win. It was the second year in a row that McDowell would come in second at the event. Harman noted that the two came close to handing McDowell’s team a victory.
“We had a little bit of a rough patch there, kind of seven, eight, nine,” Harman said about the final round, “but we both sort of said, we’ve got to weather the storm and keep it going and I was really proud we hung in there, and we caught fire on the back nine. It was fun.”
The two players grew up playing events against each other as rivals but became close friends as well as hunting and fishing buddies. Both have PGA Tour victories on their resume with Kizzire’s coming in 2018 and Harman’s in 2017.
Favorites Bunched Up for Third as Lexi Goes Long
Several favorites heading into the event bunched up T3 as McDowell and Grillo took sole ownership of the second spot. Charles Howell III and Luke List, Kevin Na and Bryson DeChambeau shared third place with Charley Hoffman and Gary Woodland. Woodland made up for some of the pain of not winning by acing the 202-yard par-three fifth hole earlier.
List played well during the final day as he went 9-under on the back-nine with his own ball in the four-ball format. List and Howell, as a team ended the final round at 61. Another team that many believed would finish better was Tony Finau and LPGA teammate Lexi Thompson. The two carded a 65 on the final round to finish seventh. Thompson was the only LPGA player in the tournament as it was her third time in a row at the QBE.
“It’s a huge honor,” Thompson said on Sunday. “It’s a great event. I grew up with two older brothers and playing with the guys, it’s pretty remarkable … just watching their games and the shots they can hit. And playing with Tony, he hits it forever off the tee and so straight. So I was just kind of learning out there. playing my own game but just learning.”
Her teammate, Tony Finau, expressed his positive thoughts on playing with Thompson as a teammate during the week several times. But it was Bubba Watson who poked fun at players that Thompson seemed to outdrive including his own teammate Harold Varner III. At one-point Watson, Finau and Varner watched as Thompson launched one of the long drives. Watson described the look on Varner’s face.
“She hammered it off the first hole,” Watson said of seeing Varner’s reaction to her distance. “He goes, ‘Oh gosh!” Tiger Woods even commented on Twitter. “How many times did Lexi outdrive Harold?”
The true example of Thompson’s lone drives came when she did outdrive Charley Hoffman who had been hitting past her by ten-yards regularly. Hoffman walked by his ball, thinking it was Thompson’s, and stood by her ball further down the fairway. As it was a “best ball” format the ball hit the shorter distance would be picked up. Thompson heard a voice from the three players behind him laughingly pointing out his mistake on assuming the longer ball was his.
“Charley just walks past Lexi’s ball as if, ‘Hey, I already know I outdrove her.’ ” Finau said taking up for his LPGA teammate. “I kind of yell at him, ‘Charley, do you want me to pick your ball up?’ I was standing by Lexi’s ball, and he starts rushing his ball. He looks back and just starts shaking his head. That was quite a funny.”
Final Results and Payout for 2018 QBE Shootout
Brian Harman & Patton Kizzire
Emiliano Grillo & Graeme McDowell
Charley Hoffman & Gary Woodland
Bryson DeChambeau & Kevin Na
Charles Howell III & Luke List
Harold Varner III & Bubba Watson
Tony Finau & Lexi Thompson
Billy Horschel & Brandt Snedeker
Sean O’Hair & Steve Stricker
Luke Donald & Andrew Landry
Pat Perez & Kyle Stanley
Cameron Champ & Kevin Kisner
Next PGA Official Schedule Event
The PGA Tour picks up in January with the Sentry Tournament of Champions January 3 – 6 in Hawaii at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort.