Three teams share shootout lead on 59

Miami (AFP) –


Birdies abounded at Tiburon Golf Club Friday, where three teams fired 59s in the scramble format first round of the QBE Shootout in Naples, Florida.

Americans Kevin Na and Bryson DeChambeau had 11 birdies and an eagle in their 13-under effort.

Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Argentina's Emiliano Grillo combined for an eagle, 13 birdies and one bogey while Americans Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman nabbed 13 birdies to top the leaderboard in the unofficial event founded by Greg Norman.

The 30th edition features 24 players in 12 two-person teams, only two of which return from 2017.

Tony Finau and Lexi Thompson, the only LPGA player in the field, reprise their partnership from last year and defending champions Sean O'Hair and Steve Stricker also returned -- sharing seventh place after the first round on 10-under 62.

England's Luke Donald, who missed six months with a lower back injury in 2018, is also testing his game before launching his 2019 campaign on a major medical extension.

"The state of the game is unknown," Donald admitted on Wednesday.

"I've been able to work hard the last couple months with no pain. I've certainly been putting in the time, but to bring it from your home course out here into a competitive situation, we'll see how it goes," he added before heading out Thursday to record a nine-under par 63 with Andrew Landry.

Their nine birdies included five straight from the 13th through the 17th.

Saturday's second round will feature a modified alternate-shot format in which players select the best drive and play alternate shot from there.