This week sees the final event on the PGA Tour in the calendar year as 24 players head to Florida’s Tiburon Golf Club for the Franklin Templeton Shootout.
The tournament is a two-man team event in which differing stroke play formats are used over three consecutive days. On Thursday the event opens with the pair playing a scramble, on Friday the format switches to alternate shot and Saturday’s final round is better ball.
Last year’s winners were Jason Dufner and Brandt Snedeker, as they secured a two-shot victory over Harris English and Matt Kuchar. Both pairs remain intact for this week’s event and are joint favourites in many places, vying for the winner's share of the $3.1 million purse.
Course: Tiburon Golf Club, Naples, Florida (Gold Course)
The Gold Course is a par-72, 7,288-yard test and one of the two designs at Tiburon which were the brainchild of the
"Great White Shark" Greg Norman. Tiburon, for those who are interested, is the Spanish word for shark and the tournament is informally referred to as the "Shark Shootout."
It has a limited amount of rough but a true challenging test is provided by large undulating greens and the many water hazards in play throughout the 18 holes. The reachable par-5 17th could well be a tournament-defining hole on as the longer hitters aim to take advantage at the business end of the Shootout.
There are many interesting pairings in this 24-player event. Possibly of most intrigue is the duo of Bryson DeChambeau and LPGA star Lexi Thompson, who becomes only the second female golfer to play in this event after the Swede Annika Sorenstam in 2006.
An all-British team of the Scot Russell Knox and former world No. 1 Luke Donald will be an interesting proposition and they could arguably continue this partnership at Le Golf National in France come 2018 in the Ryder Cup.
As mentioned above, Dufner/Snedeker and English/Kuchar will likely be at the head of affairs and the youthful exuberance of the Smylie Kaufman and Justin Thomas duo promises plenty.
Harris English and Matt Kuchar seems the safest bet, and there would be little discouragement if that were the way you decided to lean. There is value in Smylie Kaufman and Justin Thomas, and it may be that the two feed of their close friendship and undoubted talent to take this event. Birdie-fests are their specialties, and the Franklin Templeton Shootout on Tiburon’s Gold Course offers just that.