Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele are defending their title in the Franklin Templeton Shootout, and Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter also are back for the first time since winning the team event.
”It’s big,” said Bradley, coming off a second-place finish Sunday in Tiger Woods’ World Challenge in California. ”I get to play with Brendan, which is really fun, and I’m defending, which is even more fun.”
Last year, Bradley and Steele became the first PGA Tour rookies to win the Greg Norman-run tournament, shooting a 13-under-par 59 in the final-round scramble for a three-stroke victory.
”It’s rare that a plan goes that well, especially with golf,” Steele said. ”You can do everything you’re supposed to do, and it doesn’t quite work out for you.”
Johnson and Poulter won in 2010, then skipped the event last year because of scheduling conflicts.
”Our games are different, but yet they tie in very, very well in this format,” Poulter said.
The 12-team tournament begins Friday at Tiburon — ”shark” in Spanish — with a modified alternate-shot round. The team will play better ball Saturday, and finish with a scramble Sunday.
Norman is teaming with Fredrik Jacobson, and the field also features the teams of Davis Love III-Brandt Snedeker, Bud Cauley-Rickie Fowler, Justin Leonard-Scott Verplank, Jerry Kelly-Steve Stricker, Charles Howell III-Rory Sabbatini, Jason Dufner-Vijay Singh, Mark Calcavecchia-Mike Weir, Stewart Cink-Carl Pettersson and Sean O’Hair-Kenny Perry.
Bradley and Steele use belly putters that they anchor to their bodies, a technique expected to be banned in 2016 in a proposed rule change. Bradley was heckled last week at Sherwood, with a fan calling him a cheater.
”It’s a weird time for players like myself and Brendan to have to deal with that,” Bradley said. ”I think we’ve all kind of handled it pretty well considering it’s been a pretty drastic change.”