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Greg Norman open to having men's/women's team event

By Greg Hardwig
Published on

One day, the Franklin Templeton Shootout could become like the JCPenney Classic. But it's not something immediately around the corner.

Greg Norman, the Shootout's founder and host, was asked in an appearance in the Fox booth during Saturday's final round what he saw in the 28-year-old event's future. That question came on the heels of discussing Lexi Thompson, who became just the second woman to play in the tournament, joining Annika Sorenstam in 2006.

"I like the future of considering -- and what are talking internally of bringing back the JCPenney-style format where we actually have the men and the women playing," Norman said. "There's a lot of interest in the community as well as interest by the corporations thinking about having that opportunity."

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Tournament director Rob Hartman said making that change is something that has been "loosely" talked about for the future.

The JCPenney Classic was a mixed team event played mainly in Florida from 1960-1999, with the last 10 years at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.

LPGA Tour Commissioner Mike Whan discussed the overall possibility of having a PGA Tour/LPGA Tour event -- not the Shootout -- when the LPGA's CME Group Tour Championship was at Tiburon a few weeks ago.

"It's part of our PGA Tour alliance group," Whan said. "We have four different subgroups working with the PGA on four different aspects of that alliance.

"So we actually have a team that's made up of both LPGA and PGA people that get together on a pretty regular basis. I wish I was on that team. ... But that team is not only looking at different concepts and formats, but also thinking about different locations and title partners that would be interested in doing that."

Both Bryson DeChambeau, who also played with Thompson in the CVS Health Charity Classic, and Thompson gave the possibility a thumbs-up.

"I think it'd be great for the game of golf," said DeChambeau, 23. "There's no doubt it would be. I think it'd only grow the game.

"Something like the JCPenney would be pretty cool in this tournament."

"It'll be huge for the game, especially on the women's side," the 21-year-old Thompson said. "Our tour is growing dramatically ever since I turned professional, but to have a combined event, I think it'll bring a huge fan base."

Team History: DeChambeau and Thompson had their moments, but couldn't put together a good enough final round to pass any teams.

They shot 5 under in the best ball to tie with Mike Weir and Gary Woodland for 11th in the 12-team tournament.

That's still a spot better than Annika Sorenstam, the first woman to play in the event, did with Fred Couples in 2006. Norman and Nick Faldo birdied to edge them.

DeChambeau was encouraged by his foray into the side-saddle putting style.

"I'm putting good," he said. "Clearly today I made a lot of putts and had a fun time doing it. ... Hopefully I can practice a little bit more and get more comfortable with it and see where it goes."

Thompson won $73,750. By comparison, when she played in the LPGA's CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon a few weeks ago, she tied for 40th and won $9,175. The LPGA played the course at 6,551 yards; the Shootout length was 7,288.

Thompson did out-drive playing partner Luke Donald a couple of times.

"I felt like I hit it well all week," Thompson said. "I was just all over the edges with the putts today. There was a lot of tucked pins and it was pretty windy out. It played tough."

"Lexi, very impressive," said Luke Donald, who played with the DeChambeau-Thompson pairing. "Playing off the back tees, she wasn't much behind me off the tee. She outdrove me a couple of times when I didn't quite catch one. I'm not ashamed to say that because she's a strong athlete, you can tell."

Donald also was watching DeChambeau and his putting style.

"Bryson has his own method and I can see how unique it is and he may be on to something," Donald said. "I think he's thought that through pretty well. The putting was pretty solid today, for something you haven't seen for a long time."

Defending champs struggle: Brandt Snedeker and Jason Dufner finished eighth after a 6-under 66.

"We just couldn't get anything started," Snedeker said. "The putts didn't really want to fall this year.

"You've got to make the putts and get some momentum going early and it didn't seem like we could do it the last two days."

Perry, O'Hair bounce back: Kenny Perry and Sean O'Hair, who won in 2012, tied for the second-best score Saturday with an 8-under-par 64.

"The golf course to me it's so much longer and so much harder with all of the redos," Perry said. "... We were steady-Eddie out there and it was a good week. The golf course has just got more teeth in it now than it's had in the past. The greens are firm. It's hard to get the golf ball close to stop around the hole. It was in great shape. It was a joy to play."

Shootout 5k: Jesse Armbruster of Columbus, Ohio, won the men's overall early Saturday morning. The 31-year-old finished in 16:18.6.

Sammy Mapes of Fort Myers Beach was third in 17:55.0, and Naples' Kent Kajy was eighth in 19:02.8. Alexandra Gardino was 15th overall and the top female finisher in 20:31.2. There were 400 runners registered. 

This article is written by Greg Hardwig from Naples Daily News, Fla. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.

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