Driving Series

12/09/2015

A week ago, a Tiger hosted the world’s best golfers. This weekend, it’s a Shark. Don’t be distracted by the predatory nicknames, though. We assure you, these tournaments are a nice mix of competition and fun.

World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman welcomes 24 players to his Naples, Florida Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort for the Franklin Templeton Shootout.

greg norman

The Shark

The tournament is hailed as the longest running post-season event on the PGA Tour, which is a bit of a misnomer. After all, the 2015-16 season is already well underway. So the shootout qualifies more as something akin to an early-season all-star game.

The 24 players will pair up in teams of two for three rounds of competition, Thursday through Friday. On Thursday, the duos will play a scramble, Friday, modified alternate shot and Saturday, they’ll close with better ball.

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Field

Last year, Jason Day and Cameron Tringale ran away with the title thanks to a blistering 55 in the opening round scramble. That pair will return to defend its championship against these 11 other teams:

  • Harris English & Matt Kuchar
  • Zach Johnson & Patrick Rodgers
  • Graeme McDowell & Gary Woodland
  • Daniel Berger & Charley Hoffman
  • Billy Horschel & Hunter Mahan
  • Sean O’Hair & Mike Weir
  • J.B. Holmes & Patrick Reed
  • Retief Goosen & Danny Lee
  • Kenny Perry & Steve Stricker
  • Charles Howell III & Rory Sabbatini
  • Jason Dufner & Brandt Snedeker

A few pairings stick out in particular. The veteran-young gun dichotomy of the Zach Johnson, Patrick Rodgers team is intriguing if only for the future of Rodgers. Johnson, of course, has mentored and befriended Jordan Spieth. Rodgers can be the latest to learn under the stewardship of a two-time major champion.

zach johnson

Sean O’Hair and Mike Weir will bring a sense of redemption to the event. O’Hair battled back from injuries to return full-time to the tour in 2015. He played respectably with three top-10’s in 26 events, including a playoff loss to Spieth and Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship. Weir, on the other hand, has struggled mightily of late. He’s missed 56 cuts in the last four seasons alone. In a more relaxed atmosphere, perhaps his form returns for a weekend.

Then there’s the AARP group of Kenny Perry and Steve Stricker, two eminent veterans who have played well into their 40’s and, in Perry’s case, beyond. They’ll be looking to upset the youngsters in Naples, a haven for the elderly.

There’s a pro-am aspect to the Franklin Templeton Shootout as well.

One star who announced his presence is someone who may just be Florida’s most famous athlete. Tim Tebow is still holding out hope for an NFL career, but the Heisman-winning quarterback will pick up the sticks as former teammates duke it out on the grid iron.

Tebow carries an 18 handicap, although he’s capable of serious power. Earlier this year on the Golf Channel, he pummeled a 343-yard drive on a simulator. We can probably conclude that his short game needs work, which is somewhat ironic considering his prolific play near the goal line during his Florida days.

Tebow will play with fellow Gator Billy Horschel and Kentucky alum JB Holmes during the pro-am.

Of course, when remembering highlights from Franklin Templeton past, we cannot forget Jason Dufner during the peak of his #DufDays

Prediction for Winners

Well, it’s hard to bet against Jason Day these days. But I like the Horschel-Hunter Mahan pairing. It’s nice balance of intensity and composure that will yield positive results.

You can catch the action on Golf Channel Thursday and Friday, while Fox, who employs Norman as a broadcaster, brings golf back for Saturday’s final round.

Tournament Airtimes on Golf Channel (Eastern):

Thursday 12:30-4 p.m. (Live) / 4:30-7:30 p.m. (Replay)

Friday 12:30-4 p.m. (Live) / 5:30-9 p.m. (Replay)

Happy Franklin Templeton Shootout!

And if you need any financial counsel, here is Franklin Templeton on Twittter…

Driving Series