Franklin Templeton Shootout set for an exciting finish

It appears that the effort to throttle down final round scoring at Greg Norman’s Franklin Templeton Shootout at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida so that there would be more excitement has been successful. The idea was to move the scramble format from Saturday to Thursday so that even if somebody ran away on the first day, the rest of the field would have two rounds (modified alternate shot and best ball) to try to catch them.

As expected one group did excel on Thursday. Jason Day and Cameron Tringale shot 17-under, but a lot of other guys kept pace. Harris English and Matt Kuchar, the defending champions, were just two back at 15-under. And three other teams were four back at 13-under:

  • Graeme McDowell and Gary Woodland
  • Keegan Bradley and Camilo Villegas
  • Ryan Palmer and Jimmy Walker

Friday, Day and Tringale held their own shooting 8-under to remain in first place and extending their lead from two to three. That happened because English and Kuchar “only” shot 6-under to widen the gap to four, but McDowell and Woodland closed it back up to three by shooting the best round of the day, 9-under. And McDowell likes their chances for the final round:

“Two balls in play tomorrow, we should get a little more rhythm in putting strokes. We’re only three back in, like I say, a very volatile format. Looking forward to it. Like I say, both playing well.”

But it was pretty amazing that they were both playing well; Woodland was nursing a bad back trying to get to his five-week hiatus:

“I went under treatment an hour and a half before I played all day yesterday and my trainer was with me. And then from when we got done until he left my room about 10:00 last night”

“I was icing, stretching, doing everything I could, needling. It was nice. Without him I wouldn’t have been able to play so it was nice. Obviously I had a partner who played really well yesterday which allowed me to get better today. G-Mac could have easily said I’m going to go find somebody else yesterday and hung with me. I got better today and hopefully I can continue that, and if I do that, I should do pretty good tomorrow.”

Even with all of that, we get some insight into just how fragile Tour player backs can be:

“Yesterday was a good format for me. If I was going to be in pain not being best ball or not being alternate shot, I didn’t have to be in every hole. There’s a couple shots I didn’t hit where I was trying to save my back. Today would have been a tougher format if I was in that much discomfort. It definitely went down from if I was 30 percent yesterday, I was probably 75 percent today. So hopefully I can continue and I’ll be good to go tomorrow.”

Day and Tringale pretty much cruised to success in their first two rounds. Tringale is known for his straight drives and ability to get it in the fairway. Day is known for his length at some risk of not being in the fairway. Tringale would play first, get it in the fairway and free up Day to go for the long ball to have a shorter approach shot. That worked pretty well.

And they pretty much followed the same formula in the modified alternate shot Friday. Tringale would give them an island to swim to and Day would take the risk of getting them a shorter shot in:

“When Cameron goes first and hits a great shot down the middle, I know that either if I hit a bad shot, which I did a couple times out there early in the round off the tee, that I was going to be hitting in the middle of the fairway. With that said, you know, we did get off to a little bit of a slow start, but that eagle kind of propelled us in the right direction. The momentum started coming our way. And I think the way we played today in the alternate modified shot, it was a really good score today considering all the competitors that are behind us.”

Shifting to best ball for the final round is going to alter their approach a little according to Day:

“I think with tomorrow, I think it’s going to be a little different. I think probably even the longer guys, especially on some of the holes that we have been taking driver, you know, I would expect a lot of the guys to, even if your partner is in play because it’s always better to have two balls in play than just one.”

“So with that said, I think there’s going to be some certain shots that we’ve hit drivers off certain tees, I think we’ll probably scale it back a little bit, make sure that we’re in play and both giving ourselves on opportunities on the greens because I would rather have two opportunities at birdies rather than just one. We have to go out and play it smart and kind of play the way that we have been doing because we’ve been swinging the club very well. Been hitting it nicely. Our putting’s been pretty spot on. So with that said, I think as long as we’re doing what we need to do out there, I definitely see some good scores.”

But G-Mac and G-Dub have some pretty good reasons to be optimistic

“Yeah, I think that’s fair to say, five or six shots is probably the most you can come back from in this format. Two balls in play, you know, it means no one can hide. The last two days you can certainly hide a guy who’s maybe not playing his best. That was kind of why I really feel like myself and Gary have a good shot tomorrow because we’re both really playing well tee to green and both have rolled the ball well on the greens for no rewards”

“So maybe tomorrow a bit of rhythm. Only being three shots back playing with the leaders, we’ll know what we have to do tomorrow and we should have some fun doing it. This is such a fun event, especially when you’re playing with a good friend and someone who’s got the kind of game that Gary has. We’ll have a good time tomorrow regardless of what happens.”

One thing that isn’t going to happen is Day and Tringale rolling over. And funny thing, they’ll be thinking about rhythm too:

“It was really just a steady day. We left some out there for sure, but that’s going to be the case just about any day. Pleased with how it went and feel like we have good momentum and we’re both swinging well and hitting a lot of good shots. So, you know, to play our own ball tomorrow, get in a rhythm, I think will be a great way to end it.”

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