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Greg Norman announces QBE Shootout field, including Matthew Wolff, Daniel Berger, Tony Finau
People have had to make adjustments due the coronavirus pandemic over the last seven months, trying to find silver linings in an otherwise difficult time.
QBE Shootout tournament host and founder Greg Norman has been happy that the sport he loves has played a big role.
“Golf has been one of the leaders of all sports in how to get back out there,” said the World Golf Hall of Famer, who was the top player in the world for 331 weeks.
Norman has made his own adjustments in handling his various businesses and his life. Tuesday, he made a small one, announcing the field for his QBE Shootout golf tournament via Instagram Live for the first time. There wasn’t the usual press conference with a gathering of media, sponsors, and others tied into the tournament that will celebrate its 32nd year — and 20th at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort — from Dec. 9-13.
“I think the field this year, considering what’s been happening with COVID, is very impressive — it’s strong,” Norman said. “I’m very, very excited about it, because I think it’s a testament to what the 32 years of the QBE Shootout has really done.”
Norman, the Great White Shark, was just fine taking it easy as he read off notes sitting in a chair at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort while a bunny rabbit nibbled the grass a few feet away.
Norman’s adjustments have carried over into his business with the explosive use of Zoom video conferencing.
“We do things differently now,” he said. “We do them much quicker. They’re much more productive. If you have people in your boardroom, sometimes the people who are managers or below the managers stay quiet because they don’t want to feel like they can’t speak up, they don’t want to be embarrassed or whatever.
“Now on Zoom calls, everybody’s engaged. Everybody has a piece of valuable information that they inject into it. I thought ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.'”
So that has Norman looking at downsizing in a couple of areas. He’s had his own airplane for 30 years and flew 660 hours a year, he estimated. Norman sold it.
“What (the pandemic) showed me is there are other ways of doing business,” he said.
Norman also is moving toward a smaller office. His current one is 21,000 square feet, and it could go down to as little as 5,000 or 6,000.
“It’s different,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic. Some people enjoy working from home. Some people like to come to the office. … You get more productivity out of people.”
Norman, 65, was his usual enthusiastic self while discussing the event he founded that has a unique structure of three different playing formats featuring top tour players from across the world.
This year, that part is no different.
U.S. Open runner-up Matthew Wolff leads four players ranked in the top 20 in the world in this year’s field. Wolff is ranked 13th in the world, followed by Daniel Berger at No. 14, Tony Finau at No. 17, and first-timer Louis Oosthuizen at No. 20.
The two-man teams will be announced in the next few weeks.
There are 15 players in the field that are in the top 50.
Part-time Naples resident and 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker is returning. He is a former winner, as are Harris English, Matt Kuchar and Sean O’Hair, who also are back. Defending champions Kevin Tway and Rory Sabbatini also return. Tway won with his father, Bob, a former major champion, as his caddie.
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is back for the fourth straight year, and Billy Horschel is for the eighth straight year. Ryan Palmer is competing for the third time, and Harold Varner III is making his third straight appearance in the $3.6 million event.
Nine players who won a combined 10 times in the 2019-20 PGA Tour season are in the field. Brendon Todd won back-to-back tournaments near the start of it last year, and Berger, Cameron Champ, Lanto Griffin, Sungjae Im, Marc Leishman, Sebastian Munoz, Joaquin Niemann, and Cameron Smith each won once.
Todd, Griffin, Im, Leishman, Munoz, Niemann and Smith join Oosthuizen as first-time participants, along with Abraham Ancer, who is ranked No. 21 in the world, and Mackenzie Hughes.
There will be no fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.
LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson, who has played the last three Shootouts, is competing in the U.S. Women’s Open, which is the same week as the Shootout. Tuesday, Norman said the addition of Thompson, and Annika Sorenstam before her was a highlight for him in the tournament’s Tiburón tenure.
Golf Channel will broadcast Friday’s first round competition live from 1 to 4 p.m. The final two rounds will feature live coverage on both Golf Channel and NBC.
The QBE Shootout will once again feature a scramble format during the first round, a modified alternate shot format on Saturday, and a final-round better ball on Sunday.
QBE Insurance became the event’s title sponsor in 2017, and agreed to a three-year extension in 2019 that goes through 2022.
For more information, go to qbeshootout.com.
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