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Odds from Caesars Sportsbook
|Sam Burns & Billy Horschel||+400
|Jason Kokrak & Kevin Na||+600
|Harris English & Matt Kuchar||+650
|Jason Day & Marc Leishman||+750
|Max Homa & Kevin Kisner||+800
|Corey Conners & Graeme McDowell||+1100
|Matt Jones & Ryan Palmer||+1100
|Ian Poulter & Charles Howell III||+1100
|Brian Harman & Hudson Swafford||+1200
|Sean O’Hair & Will Zalatoris||+1200
|KH Lee & Brandt Snedeker||+1400
|Lexi Thompson & Bubba Watson||+3300
Sam Burns & Billy Horschel in the outright pick at +400 with Caesars
Harris English & Matt Kuchar each way in the outright at +650 with bet365
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It’s been quite a year on the PGA Tour.
Collin Morikawa has rubber-stamped his class with a second major championship triumph at the Open, Hideki Matsuyama (Masters) and Jon Rahm (US Open) became first-time winners of the tournaments which define a career, while Phil Mickelson laughed in the face of the longest major championship golf course in history to become the oldest winner of a major at the PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, Team USA regained the Ryder Cup, Patrick Cantlay claimed the FedExCup, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau ignited a ludicrous enmity, and Jordan Spieth rejoined the winner’s circle.
And now it is time for the circuit to issue a pre-holiday farewell in the form of the QBE Shootout.
The event was first played back in 1989 and has become the traditional end-of-year party.
It’s a pairs competition which utilizes three formats, each designed to create fun and low-scoring golf.
Friday’s first-round is a Scramble which means both players tee off, they select the best ball, play from that spot and continue the process until the hole is completed. Going low is essential to stay in the title hunt.
In Saturday’s Greensomes, the same process starts each hole, but the teams play alternate shot once the best tee ball has been selected. It’s a slightly more fraught form of the game, but still rewards aggression.
Sunday’s fourball (or better ball) is the best-known variation. Both players complete the hole with their own ball; the best score counts.
The giddy quest for birdies has befuddled many competitors, but plenty of others have enjoyed being freed from the leash of 72-hole strokeplay.
Harris English and Matt Kuchar not only defend the trophy, they are three-time winners and two-time runners-up. Moreover, two of their wins came in seven- and nine-stroke thrashings of the field (the latter example being last year).
What’s their secret? Kuchar has no idea. “There’s no rhyme or reason,” he insisted. “I just think we make a great team.”
English may have revealed something more interesting ahead of the final round last year when suggesting: “If you have birdie looks on every hole, you’re going to be in good shape. We play to our strengths.”
Both are steady from the tee, neither seeking something outlandish; they leave the aggression for the putting surface.
They’re rated third favourites this week with the team to beat the form duo of Sam Burns and Billy Horschel
Burns and Horschel may be the favorites, but it is a deserved position at the head of the market.
Burns has been one of the rising stars of the PGA Tour, winning for the first time in May, for a second time in October, and taking part (albeit a losing part) in a play-off at the World Golf Championship St Jude Invitational in August.
Horschel, too, was a WGC runner-up this year, in the Workday Championship, but he was also a winner at that level in the Dell Technologies Match Play. Later in the year, he crossed the Atlantic to win the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship.
What both of them missed out on was a spot in the American Ryder Cup team. In past years they might easily have qualified, but this was an exceptional year with a dizzying array of talent at captain Steve Stricker’s disposal.
Burns is likely to have been more sanguine about losing out given that he only became a viable candidate very late in the year, but Horschel was a little irked at his non-selection and he might easily view this as the chance to capture some team golf glory.
It’s a minor motivation but, allied to such strong year-long form, the pair should be very excited about their prospects this week. It’s a free run at the perfect end to an exceptional 2021.
Moreover, Burns plays his best golf on Bermuda greens and Horschel’s return to Florida will be a reminder of how well he started the year there.
Take them in the outright market at +400 with Unibet.
Can English and Kuchar make it win number four?
Sure, their first and most recent wins came off the back of excellent years for both of them, but they’ve also won, and twice finished second, when not arriving in the best of nick.
They’ll need a repeat of the latter because Kuchar has made only one top 10 all year and English has gone off the boil in the Fall.
But Kuchar has gone sub-70 in 11 of his last 12 laps and English thrashed a third round 63 last week in the Hero World Challenge, so they’re in far from abject form.
There’s clearly a risk attached to this punt; veteran Kuchar might be out of puff and English fatigued after a big year.
But they might easily revive past glories and it’s not often you can back a team at this price with a past record of played six, won three, placed twice – and the fact two of those wins were so dominant is even more persuasive.
Back them each way in the outright, with bet365 offering +650.
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|The QBE Shootout Information|
|Tournament||The QBE Shootout|
|Location||Tiburon Golf Course, Naples, Florida|
|Time||Friday December 10 – Sunday December 12|
|How to watch||Friday 12pm, 5pm & 10pm ET (Golf Channel), Saturday 1pm, 6pm & 10pm ET (Golf Channel) & Sunday 12pm, 5pm & 9pm ET (Golf Channel). And all three days on Sky Sports.|
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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