The QBE Shootout is a team event that takes place at the end of the calendar year when the PGA Tour and its relatively new wraparound season is on its winter break. As such, it does not form part of the PGA Tour schedule and is officially classed as a money event. The chance to head to Naples, Florida and have a relaxed three rounds in the sun at Tiburon Golf Club for a prize fund of $3.3 million attracts some big names to compete in the event every year.
Greg Norman is the long time host of the QBE Shootout. It was even known as the Shark Shootout in honour of Norman among various names that the tournament has gone by since being founded in 1989. The format of the tournament has also changed over the years but it has always been a pairs event and currently takes place over three days with a round of scramble, followed by a round of greensomes and finished with a round of better ball. This format ensures scoring is crazily low, with rounds in the 50s relatively common and winning totals of –30 and better far from unheard of!
2022: Tom HogeSahith Theegala
The 2022 renewal of the QBE Shootout featured a thrilling climax, with the rookie team of Tom Hoge and Sajith Theegala posting 10 under on the final day to overhaul overnight leaders Ryan Palmer and Charley Hoffman.
As is so often the case, the key shot came on the final hole as Theegala – who had to overcome a pulled muscle on the first hole – drained a 15-footer for birdie to move his team one shot clear. The drama wasn’t quite over with though, as both Hoffman and Palmer faced 12-foot putts on the 18th, needing to sink only one of them to force a playoff. Both missed and the rookies lifted the trophy. For Hoge, this was a second success of 2022 following his win at Pebble Beach, but for Theegala this represented a first taste of victory in a top-tier event.
Elsewhere, three-time winners Harris English and Matt Kuchar put in another strong showing to finish three shots off the lead in third, whilst LPGA Tour player Nelly Korda impressed many in a fifth-placed showing with playing partner Denny McCarthy.
2021: Jason KokrakKevin Na
Jason Kokrak is not the most popular golfer at the top level of the PGA Tour. He has signalled his intention to jump ship to the Saudi Arabia-backed Golf League as and when it begins but Kokrak remains a PGA Tour player and added another win to his tally, albeit an unofficial one, as he and Kevin Na won the QBE Shootout.
Kokrak and Na opened their tournament with scores of 59 on Friday but, such is the low scoring nature of this tournament, that was not enough for the first-round lead. Four other pairs broke 60 in the day one scramble with Jason Day and Marc Leishman going lowest of all with a 56. Unlike their rivals, Kokrak and Day were able to hack the pace of the QBE Shootout, shooting 64 in the Saturday greensomes (better than all but one other pairing) and then fired in a better ball 60 on Sunday.
That 60 was one shot better than Billy Horschel and Sam Burns managed on Sunday, their 61 leaving them meaning they missed out on a playoff by the same single stroke margin. It also saw them overtake Day and Leishman who were unable to capitalise on their 36-hole lead and ended the tournament on -31, two behind the winning score of -33.
2020: Harris EnglishMatt Kuchar
The QBE Shootout is not like other PGA Tour events and Tiburon Golf Club is not like most courses on the professional ranks. Harris English and Matt Kuchar both showed that it is possible to have event specialists even in this tournament though as they secured a record third win at the 2020 QBE Shootout.
Becoming the tournament’s first three-time winners was not the only record set by the formidable English/Kuchar partnership. They smashed their own tournament record with a winning score of -37 which Kuchar described as “laughable”. That was made up of 58, 61 and 60 and saw them win by a massive nine shots, earning almost half a million dollars each in the process. Amazingly, after the first round they were actually two shots off the pace, Kevin Na and Sean O’Hair firing in an incredible 56 first up!
A second round 61 saw them move well clear though and the only hope for the chasing pack going into the final round was that English and Kuchar would find the pressure of seeing out the win too much. They admitted afterwards that the thought of throwing away their five shot lead from the first two rounds had played on their mind but you would never have known it watching the quality of their golf on Sunday. Kuchar summed the performance up, saying, “It’s hard to fathom how good of golf that way. It’s funny, as a player you stay in the moment pretty well and don’t think too much about it.”
2019: Rory SabbatiniKevin Tway
Rory Sabbatini and Kevin Tway put on a show for the fans gathered at Tiburon Golf Club to win the 2019 QBE Shootout. The pair flourished in the better ball format of the third and final round of the tournament, making six birdies and an eagle on the back nine. As much as the format allows for players to attack flags and it is played without the intensity of a regular PGA Tour event, the quality of Sabbatini and Tway’s golf was remarkable and meant they were full value for their two-shot victory.
“It’s a fun event and it’s great having a partner like Kevin, he took a lot of pressure off me and that allowed me to be more aggressive,” Sabbatini said afterwards. Slovakia’s number one golfer was able to let loose and really enjoy himself while Tway’s enjoyment was greater thanks to the presence of his father Bob, himself an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, as his caddie. “It was nice to have dad out there on the bag,” Tway said. “To play well and win with him there was awesome.”
2018: Brian HarmanPatton Kizzire
Little and large combinations are commonplace in football. In golf, not so much. Brian Harman (5ft six in his heels) and Patton Kizzire (who stands well over 6ft four inches) blazed a trail for the big man, little man partnership with their win in the 2018 QBE Shootout. The Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn of golf play a lot together in Sea Island, Georgia and their friendship no doubt helped en route to a one-shot victory over Emiliano Grillo and Graeme McDowell.
“We’re normally trying to get into each other’s heads,” said Kizzire in the post tournament press conference. “This week he was nice to me, which was kind of weird.” The joking continued throughout the press conference which gave an insight into the sort of laidback approach that both men took to the tournament in general and which tends to help in an event like this. The pairing didn’t really have a chance to take the tournament seriously and set out a plan of attack. Harman was a late addition to the field after Davis Love III was forced to pull out. He took full advantage of the opportunity to compete in the QBE Shootout and to play alongside somebody he has competed against since the age of 12.
2017: Sean O’HairSteve Stricker
The QBE Shootout is about as relaxed a tournament as you’ll find with professional golfers taking part. The competitive spirit burns fiercely in every PGA Tour player though and there was a proper battle at Tiburon. Sean O’Hair and Steve Stricker knew they would need to maintain a high level of golf throughout the day if they were to see off the Irish pairing of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. The final round didn’t start as the American duo would have liked but they found the required levels just in time and saw out the win.
McDowell and Lowry always look to enjoy themselves on the golf course and they had reason to be very happy with their play on the front nine. They held a two shot lead after the sixth hole but that was when O’Hair and Stricker really found their stride. Birdies are the norm on the third and final day of play as the pairs play better ball but the run of three straight birdies on seven, eight and nine was still pretty special.
The eventual champions pressed home their advantage over their opponents on 11 and 14 before the defining moment came on 17. The par five is reachable but McDowell and Lowry both found a greenside bunker as they pressed for an eagle. There was no such concern for O’Hair who got up and down for eagle from 195 yards leaving them the simple task of not making a mistake on the final hole for victory. In the end third –26 total saw them win by two shots from the Irish, with Brian Harman and Pat Perez further two shots back.