Although there are several other strong teams competing, Harris English and Matt Kuchar have to be considered the favorites in the 34th QBE Shootout, which starts Friday on the Gold Course at Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Resort in Naples, Fla.
That’s because English (pictured, right) and Kuchar (left) have won the two-player team event three times.
“We’ve been here (eight) times and it’s just a fun way to cap off a great year,” said English, who has won four times on the PGA Tour and eight times as a professional. “To be here in Naples, the weather’s awesome, it’s a fun tournament, getting to play with one of my buddies, Matt. We’ve had a lot of success here and it’s just a great week. We’ve played great here, I think we won by nine shots (in 2020) and you can take a lot of momentum from that.
“I feel like we complement each other really well. We both are really good putters, Matt’s one of the best putters I’ve ever played with and we just seem to hole a lot of putts around this place. He’s obviously a really straight driver, really consistent. I hit it a little further than him, so I try to give it a rip on some par-5s, but we just stay in a lot of holes. Somehow this course fits our eyes and we have a lot of looks at birdies.”
English and Kuchar won the QBE Shootout in 2013, 2016 and 2020, setting a tournament record the last time with a 54-hole score of 58-61-60—179, 37-under-par, to finish nine shots ahead of Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia and Kevin Tway, MacKenzie Hughes of Canada and Lanto Griffin, and Kevin Na and Sean O’Hair.
Kuchar and English also finished second in the tournament as defending champions in 2014 and were runners-up again in 2015.
“This is an invite you look forward to every year,” said Kuchar, who has won eight times on the PGA Tour including the 2012 Players Championship, and has 18 titles as a pro. It’s definitely special. Harris and I have just had a great run and it’s really been fun. Every year I look forward to getting another chance to play with him.”
Na and Jason Kokrak claimed the title last year by making 12 birdies on the last three holes, but for some reason they won’t be back to defend their title. English and Kuchar again were in the hunt, finishing two strokes behind in a tie for third.
Other teams in the field include Max Homa and Kevin Kisner, Jason Day of Australia (who won in 2014 with Cameron Tringale) and Billy Horschel, Sepp Straka of Austria and Brian Harman (who won in 2018 with Patton Kizzire), Steve Stricker (who has won the event with two different partners) and Cameron Young, Tom Hoge and Sahith Theegala, Charley Hoffman and Ryan Palmer, Scott Stallings and Trey Mullinax, Corey Conners of Canada and K.H. Lee of South Korea, and Keith Mitchell and J.J. Spaun.
In addition, two LPGA stars are in the field, as Nelly Korda will team with Denny McCarthy, and Lexi Thompson will play alongside Maverick McNealy.
Tournament officials announced earlier this week that beginning next year, each team will feature one LPGA Tour player with one from the PGA Tour.
The QBE Shootout is a three-day, stroke-play event featuring a scramble or best-ball format on the first day, followed by modified alternate-shot on day two, and best-ball on Sunday, with the better of each team’s score counting on each hole.