NAPLES, Fla. — Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele are defending their title in the Franklin Templeton Shootout, and Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter also are back for the first time since winning the team event.
Last year, Bradley and Steele became the first PGA Tour rookies to win the Greg Norman-run tournament, shooting a 13-under 59 in the final-round scramble for a three-stroke victory. Bradley is coming off a second-place finish Sunday in Tiger Woods’ World Challenge in California.
Johnson and Poulter won in 2010, then skipped the event last year because of scheduling conflicts.
The 12-team tournament begins Friday at Tiburon — “shark” in Spanish — with a modified alternate-shot round. The team will play better ball Saturday, and finish with a scramble Sunday.
Norman is teaming with Fredrik Jacobson, and the field also features the teams of Davis Love III-Brandt Snedeker, Bud Cauley-Rickie Fowler, Justin Leonard-Scott Verplank, Jerry Kelly-Steve Stricker, Charles Howell III-Rory Sabbatini, Jason Dufner-Vijay Singh, Mark Calcavecchia-Mike Weir, Stewart Cink-Carl Pettersson and Sean O’Hair-Kenny Perry.
Season opening round delayed: In Durban, South Africa, rain has washed out the opening day of the 2013 European Tour season at the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship in South Africa.
South Africa’s Sunshine Tour, which co-sanctions the event, says the first round will start at 6:30 a.m. local time on Friday at Royal Durban Golf Club.
European Tour tournament director Mikael Eriksson told Sky Sports “the fairways are very waterlogged and the course hasn’t improved as much as we hoped it would overnight. ... Further rain early this morning put us back another few hours.”
Eriksson says organizers tried to shorten some holes to avoid the water. Organizers were still hoping to play the full 72 holes in the first edition of the $1.3 million tournament, the first event on the 2013 Race to Dubai.
Schwartzel leads after 65: In Chon Buri, Thailand, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to take a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Thailand Golf Championship.
The South African made four birdies in the first seven holes and added three more in a bogey-free round at Amata Spring Country Club to hold a one-shot advantage over Thitiphun Chuayprakong.
Schwartzel, the champion at Augusta National in 2011, says “it’s nice to put yourself in position ... I’m very happy with the way my game has started getting back.”
Daniel Chopra shot a 67 to share third place with Javi Colomo.
Third-ranked Bubba Watson shot 68, including an eagle and six birdies, and defending champion Lee Westwood shot 70.
Senden leads by 2 shots: In Sydney, John Senden shot a 6-under 66 in calm morning conditions to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Australian Open.
Senden had eight birdies but back-to-back bogeys at The Lakes, while Englishman Justin Rose, who birdied three of his first four holes, was level with Australians Kim Felton, Brendan Jones and Richard Green and Gareth Paddison of New Zealand after 68s.
Rose dropped his only shot of the day when he muffed a greenside flop shot on the par-4 third hole, his 12th of the round.
“I decided to try and hit the high, sexy lob — that didn’t really come off,” Rose said.
Senden had a consistent year on the PGA Tour, making 19 cuts from 22 events, including five top-10 finishes.
“The results have shown in the past couple of years. I have been inside the top 30 and been consistent,” Senden said. “I have taken those feelings and brought them home to Australia. I feel I can keep improving and keeping knocking on the door in every event I play.”
Adam Scott, who practiced with a new putter earlier in the week, used his old broomstick-style blade on Thursday and missed a 4-foot birdie attempt on his opening hole before shooting 72.
Feng in front by four shots: In Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Shanshan Feng birdied five of her first nine holes Thursday to shoot a 7-under 65 and take a four-stroke lead after the second round of the Dubai Ladies Masters.
Feng, the highest-ranked player in the field, had three more birdies on the back nine at the Emirates Golf Club for a total of 13-under 131.
Florentyna Parker, who shared the lead heading into the second round, shot a 74 to drop down the leaderboard.
Instead, Felicity Johnson (67) moved into second place, one stroke ahead of Caroline Masson (68), Cindy Lacrosse (69), Joanna Klatten (65) and Gwladys Nocera (68).
Defending champion Lexi Thompson (68) is another stroke back. The 17-year-old American survived blustery morning conditions in Dubai and made four birdies through a bogey-free 18 holes.
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