By Pete Pappas
GolfWRX Staff Writer
A Sunday round in the 50’s isn’t a common occurrence. But at the Franklin Templeton Shootout, a 54-hole team even hosted by Greg Norman at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., it’s just par for the course.
Kenny Perry and Sean O’Hair won the tournament known as the “Shark Shootout” with a final score of 31-under. A surging Perry and O’Hair birdied five of the last six holes for the victory at the majestic 7,288-yard Greg Norman designed Gold Course, holding off Rory Sabbatini and Charles Howell III by just one shot. Perry and O’Hair carded a 12-under 60 on Sunday, while Sabbatini and Howell fired 15-under, 57, the low round of the week.
“You can’t really get too far ahead of yourself out there in that field,” Perry said. “You just kind of play each hole.”
The Franklin Templeton Shootout is break from traditional stroke play where two man teams that play a mixed format.
“It’s a lot of fun especially in a team event,” said Brendan Steele, who won last year’s Shark Shootout with Keegan Bradley. “We don’t get to do that that often so that makes it a special week.”
The first round is a “Modified Alternate Shot” format, where each player hits a drive on every hole and one drive is selected. The player whose drive is not selected hits the second shot, and they alternate shots until the ball is holed. The second round is “Better Ball,” where each player plays through every hole using his own ball. The player whose score is the lowest on each hole will be the team score for that hole. And the final round format is a “Scramble,” where each player hits a drive on every hole and the best drive is selected. Each player then plays a second shot from the location of the selected driver, and the best second shot is selected. This process is repeated until the hole is completed.
“To me it almost felt like a vacation this week,” O’Hair said. “You know, having a few cocktail parties, go out with my wife and have a good time, come to work and have a good time with a friend of mine and play some nice golf. It was just a nice way to end the year.”
With the victory the 52-year-old Perry became the oldest player to win the Shark Shootout. It was also Perry’s third career Shootout victory, wins he’s racked up with three different playing partners (he won with John Huston in 2005 and Scott Hoch in 2008). Fred Couples, Brad Faxon and Steve Elkington have also won the Shootout three times, with Couples and Elkington also winning each time with different playing partners.
Down the stretch, Sabbatini and Howell however didn’t make it easy for Perry and O’Hair. And on No. 16, a par 3, they tied Perry and O’Hair for the lead with the first birdie of the day on the hole.
“We played really well and gave ourselves a lot of opportunities,” Sabbatini said.
But moments later Perry hit his approach close at No. 16, and O’Hair slammed the door shut with a 10-foot birdie putt.
“I knew they were going to probably catch up to us at some point, but I knew we had holes to catch back up to them,” Perry said.
For their efforts, Perry and O’Hair will split $750,000 of the event’s $3 million purse.
Jason Dufner and Vijay Singh finished third at 28-under. The teams of Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink and Carl Pettersson and Davis Love III and Brandt Snedeker all finished in a fourth place tie at 27-under.