World No. 1, defending co-champion Jason Day leads Franklin Templeton Shootout 2015 field

By Greg Hardwig
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World No. 1, defending co-champion Jason Day leads Franklin Templeton Shootout 2015 field

NAPLES, Fla. -- Greg Norman was the world's No. 1 golfer for 331 weeks. Now he has the current No. 1 in his Franklin Templeton Shootout, and he's made quite a challenge to him.

Jason Day, who won last year's tournament with Cameron Tringale, will return to defend at Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort from Dec. 7-12.

When Day, who won the PGA Championship, made it up to No. 1 in the world, Norman sent him a text.

"Now I want you to do it for 332 weeks," Norman told his fellow Aussie.

Norman wasn't trying to add pressure, more like preparation for what Day was going to face moving forward after contending in nearly every major and then finally breaking through with the PGA at Whistling Straits.

"Now it just becomes a little bit more difficult," Norman said. "You've got to keep pushing yourself, pushing yourself and pushing yourself."

Norman doesn't see Day having a problem doing that based on how he approached getting to No. 1 in the first place. Day said that was his goal.

"When you're putting it out there, you put it out there," Norman said. "What I love about him is he's backed it up. He's backed it up with his tenacity. He's backed it up through some health issues. ... He wanted it so bad, and he achieved it."

Norman and tournament director Taylor Ives have achieved another strong field in addition to Day and Tringale.

Seven of the top 30 players on the Official World Golf Ranking are scheduled to compete as the longest-running PGA Tour-sanctioned postseason event -- at 27 years -- returns for the 15th year to Tiburon.

A year ago, Day and Tringale held on to win by one stroke over 2013 champions Matt Kuchar and Harris English, who also are returning and will be paired.

The seven players in the field currently ranked among the top 30 in the world are led by Day and British Open champion Zach Johnson, who are ranked first and 10th, respectively. Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Patrick Reed, Billy Horschel and Brandt Snedeker follow.

Five players will be competing for the first time -- PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Daniel Berger, Charley Hoffman, Danny Lee, Hunter Mahan and Patrick Rodgers. Berger, Hoffman and Lee finished the season among the top 12 in the FedExCup standings.

Rodgers continues a recent trend of players who have appeared in the Terra Cotta Invitational, a top amateur event played at Naples National Golf Club. He was runner-up to Emiliano Grillo in 2011. Kuchar won it in 1997.

Reed contended in the event for a number of years. Sean O'Hair, who is in this year's Shootout field and is a previous Shootout winner, played in the Terra Cotta. And 2008 champion Bud Cauley played in the Shootout a few years ago.

Jason Dufner, Retief Goosen, Graeme McDowell and Mike Weir -- all major championship winners -- will be returning, as will Charles Howell III, Kenny Perry, O'Hair, Rory Sabbatini, Steve Stricker and Gary Woodland.

Six players -- Day and Lee for the Internationals; Holmes, Johnson, Kuchar and Reed for the U.S. -- recently played in the Presidents Cup. Stricker was an assistant captain for the winning Americans.

Among the 19 players who have previously played in the Shootout, seven have won the event and all of them have won in Naples -- Day and Tringale, English and Kuchar, Perry and O'Hair (Perry also has won with two other partners), and Stricker (with Jerry Kelly, who is not in this year's field).

Norman will not be competing again in the tournament due to his announcing duties with Fox, which will televise the final round on Saturday, Dec. 12 live from 1 to 5 p.m. Norman will join Joe Buck in the 18th tower again.

Norman said he's enjoyed his first year in the TV role, despite some hiccups and criticism overall after Fox's debut at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in June.

"It's like going into the Daytona 500 as your first race of the year," Norman said. "We were thrown to the wolves."

Norman did the U.S. Amateur two months ago, and thought it came off great.

"It's just a process of evolution," he said.

The Golf Channel will televise the first and second rounds from 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10 and Friday, Dec. 11.

Norman, who founded the tournament in 1989, played in the Shootout a tournament-record 24 times. He will participate in the pro-am on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The pairings for the 12, two-man teams will be announced at the end of this month. The switch of the formats will remain as last year -- scramble, modified alternate shot, and then best ball. In almost all of the previous years, the scramble was the final format, but the change was made to create more of a tight competition on the final day.

The field:

Daniel Berger, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Harris English, Retief Goosen, Charley Hoffman, J.B. Holmes, Billy Horschel, Charles Howell III, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Danny Lee, Hunter Mahan, Graeme McDowell, Sean O'Hair, Kenny Perry, Patrick, Reed, Patrick Rodgers, Rory Sabbatini, Brandt Snedeker, Steve Stricker, Cameron Tringale, Mike Weir, Gary Woodland.

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