Palmer-Hoffman Lead Finau-Hoge Going to Final Round of QBE Shootout

Ryan Palmer and Charley Hoffman apparently liked where the stood after the first round, so they stayed right there.

Hoffman, from Poway, and Palmer recorded a bogey-free, 10-under-par 62 in the modified alternate-shot format to maintain a two-stroke lead, this time over Tom Hoge and Sahith Theegala, after the second round of the 34th QBE Shootout on the Gold Course at Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Resort in Naples, Fla.

The final round on Sunday will be played in the best-ball format

“This is a format you could have shot yourself in the foot for sure if you didn’t go out and put a decent round up,” said Palmer, whose best result in the QBE Shootout was a tie for third with Harold Varner III in 2019. “I was watching the leaderboard a little bit when I saw some of them  played exceptional golf. We played solid all day, we didn’t do anything spectacular.

“(Hoffman) hit a lot of great tee balls, my iron play was on point today and he was able to make some putts. And when I needed to, I made a few, so the tag teaming went well today. It was nice to get that round in in this format.”

Added Hoffman, who has tied for third in this event three times: “I’m surprised how low I’d say the field went. There were sort of benign conditions, but you’ve still got to execute and hit golf shots around this place. Obviously 10-under is a pretty good score. We were in a pretty good rhythm. We were giving ourselves birdie chances and we were knocking most of them in. The reality is we were just doing our thing.”

Palmer (pictured, left) and Hoffman (right), who opened with a 56 in the scramble format, made four birdies on the front nine and added six coming home to record a tournament record 36-hole score of 26-under 118.

Tom Hoge and Sahith Theegala posted a second straight bogey-free 60 with an eagle at No. 17 and are alone in second at 120, while Jason Day of Australia, who won the tournament in 2015 with Brandt Snedeker, and Billy Horschel birdied six of the first eight holes en route to a bogey-free 61 and are four shots behind in a tie for third with three-time QBE winners Matt Kuchar and Harris English, who birdied seven of the last eight holes to cap a bogey-free 62.

“Today, we just kind of started off hot and never really looked back,” said Theegala, who is from Chino Hills and Pepperdine. “I was just saying walking off the green it just felt really stress-free today.”

Added Hoge: “I think more than anything, in best-ball both of us just need to kind of be in the hole with chances on every hole. If we can both play well, it will help it out. Ultimately, you’ve got to make a lot of birdies to catch these guys, they’re playing so well.”

Kevin Kisner and Max Homa of Valencia and Cal eagled the sixth hole to go with eight birdies, but also had a double-bogey and a bogey in a 65 that left them five back in solo fifth, followed by Steve Stricker and Cameron Young two more down in sixth after a bogey-free 63 with six birdies on the back nine, while K.H Lee of South Korea and Corey Conners of Canada are eight strokes behind in seventh after a 68.

Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax had five birdies on the back nine in a bogey-free 66 and are nine shots behind in a tie for eighth with Lexi Thompson and Maverick McNealy of Stanford, who posted a bogey-free 67, and Nelly Korda and Denny McCarthy, who finished with five birdies and an eagle a No. 17 in another 67.

Brian Harman and Sepp Straka of Austria totaled 69 and are 11 behind in a tie for 11th with Keith Mitchell and J.J. Spaun of Los Angeles and San Diego State, who eagled the first and sixth holes but struggled the rest of the way in another 69.

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