Australians Marc Leishman and Jason Day combined to shoot a 16-under-par 56 on Friday to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
Leishman and Day had two eagles and 12 birdies as they thrived in the first-round scramble format – where both teammates tee off then both play from the better-positioned ball, continuing the process until the hole is completed.
“I think we combined really well,” Leishman said. “I drove it reasonably well most of the day, but when I was off the fairway Jase hit good tee shots, and I was putting first after the first hole and when I missed, he made … we combined well.
“We get along very well and it was just nice to get off to a good start in this sort of event.”
Leishman holed a chip for eagle on the 6th and holed out again at the par-four 10th, where his wedge took a couple of hops and rolled into the cup.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 10, 2021
“It feels good,” Leishman said. “The one on six, I had a pretty good read off Jase. It was a very straight forward chip, but obviously it still takes a little bit of luck for it to actually go in the hole.”
The Aussies raced home with six birdies from the 13th through the 18th and held a one-shot lead over two teams: defending champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English and the duo of Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and Canadian Corey Conners.
Harris and English, seeking a fourth win in seven years in the unofficial PGA Tour event hosted by Greg Norman, had 15 birdies while McDowell and Conners combined for 13 birdies and an eagle at the 17th.
Two teams shared fourth on 13 under, Kevin Na and Jason Kokrak and Bubba Watson and LPGA star Lexi Thompson.
Watson tried to drive the green at the par-four 13th. His ball hit a seated spectator and bounced back toward the pin nearly giving them a hole-in-one.
Tough week for Bills fans. 😬
Bubba's drive went directly off the arm of a spectator. pic.twitter.com/LpBIvNGs5W
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 11, 2021
Watson said he would “never” have hit that shot off the tee in a regular tournament but, in the scramble, with Thompson already in the fairway, thought he’d go for it.
On Saturday, the format switches to modified alternate shot, while the final round on Sunday will be fourball, with each player playing his or her own ball and the best score counting.
© Agence France-Presse