NAPLES, Fla. – There was a lot of movement on the leaderboard during Saturday’s second round of the 2022 QBE Shootout.
Teams jockeyed for position to put themselves in contention for Sunday’s final round, but one thing remains the same Saturday night as Friday: the names at the top.
Charley Hoffman and Ryan Palmer continued their strong play, scoring a 10-under 62 in the second round modified alternate shot format at Tiburon Golf Club. It was a fairly stress-free performance from the duo, who are working together for the first time but have plenty of experience at the QBE Shootout. Perhaps the hardest shot they faced was a par putt on 18, which Palmer converted with ease.
Neither has won before, but they will take a two-shot lead on Sunday, the same lead they had after the first round.
Hoffman and Palmer started as well as they finished, with birdies on the first two holes to extend their lead. Although other duos led on points all round, no one was ever able to beat Hoffman and Palmer from the top, and coming down the stretch they managed to make birdies and get away from the pack.
They made three birdies in a row from Nos. 12-14. Then back-to-back on Nos. 16-17. A day after a 56, they were one of four teams (out of 12) to score under par in double digits on Saturday.
The closest pursuers are Tom Hoge and Sahith Theegala, who shot 12-under 60 for the second day in a row. Of holes Nos. 11-17 on the back nine, they were 7 under, broken by an eagle on the par-5 17th.
“Today we just started off a little hot and never really looked back,” said Theegala. “I was just saying that walking off the green today just felt really stress-free.”
Theegala and Hoge made birdies on their first three holes and five of the first six. They cooled off in the middle of the round, but rekindled the flame during the stretch on the back nine. They will be in the final group on Sunday, looking for the second pair of first-timers to win.
“Mostly I think in the best ball we should just both be in the hole with chances on every hole,” Hoge said. “If we can both play well that helps. In the end you have to make a lot of birdies to catch these guys, they play well.”
Jason Day and Billy Horschel make a big move
Jason Day and Billy Horschel meet on the second fairway during the second round of the QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club on December 10, 2022 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Billy Horschel and Jason Day were the first two players to tee off at Tiburon Golf Club on Saturday.
Come Sunday, they will be two of the last. Day and Horschel put together one of the rounds of the day, shooting 11-under 61. The 61 matches their score from Friday’s scramble portion. They’re sitting T-3, four shots back.
“Frankly it could have easily been 13, 14 under par,” Horschel said. “We had a few putts that just burned the edges, and we didn’t make a No. 6 birdie. It could easily have been a very special round of golf today.”
The round started with three birdies on the first three holes, then they added one on the difficult par-3 fifth. They went out in 6-under 30 before coming home in 5-under 31.
Day won this tournament in 2014 with Cameron Tringale and Horschel finished second last year, losing by one shot. This is Day and Horschel’s first time together and they have a lot of experience in Sunday’s format. How can they be successful?
“I think you just have to give yourself the opportunities that are out there,” Day said. “I know you just have to stick to your own game and make as many birdies as possible. I know you have a partner, but just try to get the best out of yourself. I think if you can go out and shoot your own ball anywhere from 5 to 10, hopefully your partner will pick up some of those on the other holes and then you may be in and around the lead.
English, Kuchar at famous place
Matt Kuchar of the United States hits off the 4th tee during the second round of the QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club on December 10, 2022 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
The best duo in QBE Shootout history is Matt Kuchar and Harris English. So it’s no surprise that they’re at the top of the leaderboard. Again.
They have won the event three times, which is a record. They also have the most top-five finishes as a team (six).
And this year too, they want to win the trophy on Sunday. English and Kuchar shot 10-under 62 to tie for third with Day and Horschel.
They made birdies on five consecutive holes on the back nine and seven of their last eight. Heading into Sunday, they sit at 22 under and four shots back.
Nelly Korda, Denny McCarthy fight back late
Nelly Korda and Denny McCarthy of the United States watch from the 2nd fairway during the second round of the QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club on December 10, 2022 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Denny McCarthy held out his hands and laughed. His partner, Nelly Korda, got off the green and did the same back.
The duo stuck in neutral after the first eight holes, seemingly without putts and even a bogey on the par-3 sixth.
Still, McCarthy’s response to a birdie putt on the par-4 ninth was triggered by a great shot from Korda into the right rough to get them back on track.
“We finally made one,” McCarthy told Korda’s parents, Petr and Regina Rajchrtova, as they marched to the 10th tee.
Saturday’s round didn’t initially go so smoothly for Korda, the second best golfer in the world, and McCarthy. After opening at 12-under 60, they shot 5-under 67 on Saturday in a round that also featured a double bogey on the par-4 11th.
The duo, both excellent putters, couldn’t get anything to find the bottom of the cup. That is, until after the double bogey.
They made four consecutive birdies on holes No. 13-16, saving the day. Then McCarthy buried a long eagle putt on the 17th. The highlight, however, was the stir they caused at 18.
They will need to make a big move on Sunday, but they are in much better shape after the strong finish than they are with seven holes to go in the second round.
Meanwhile, Lexi Thompson and partner Maverick McNealy matched a 5-under 67, McNealy’s birdie attempt on 18 just missing.
Looking forward to Sunday’s format
Sunday is the last day of the QBE Shootout and it’s also the third different format players will have in as many days.
After playing scramble and modified alternate shot, the 12 teams will play four balls on Sunday. Each player plays their own ball and teams take the player with the lowest score on each hole.
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek