Pairings Set for Merrill Lynch Shootout


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12 Partnerships Prepare for Naples’ PGA TOUR Stop

20-Year Shootout Celebration Supported by Golf’s Brightest Stars

NAPLES, Fla. (November 6, 2008) – Tournament host Greg Norman has matched a collection of golf’s successful individuals into two-man teams as the 20th annual Merrill Lynch Shootout returns to Tiburón Golf Club and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples December 10-14.

Southwest Florida sports fans will be joined by an international television audience to watch some of the brightest stars in professional golf battle it out for three days all while raising funds and awareness for CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation and other worthy charities.

Defending champions Woody Austin and Mark Calcavecchia will attempt to become only the third team in Shootout history to successfully defend its title. However, the twosome will face intense competition from 11 other teams striving for a perfect partnership. Graeme McDowell and Scott McCarron were the last two players to commit.

“Overall, I could not be more pleased with how the partnerships have fallen into place,” said tournament host Greg Norman. “The competition should be spirited - - Ryder Cup pairings from both the U.S. and European side, the partnership of my Presidents Cup counterpart Fred Couples and Stewart Cink along with several examples of long-time friends joining forces. This group is sure to entertain as we celebrate 20 years of the Merrill Lynch Shootout.”

“From my perspective, I am very much looking forward to teaming with Camilo and hopefully make another run at the trophy as I did with my partner last year. The combination of his ability and style has been a breath of fresh air for golf. I believe the Shootout’s format will suit us well.”

Senior Vice President, Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, Paula Polito noted: “We are honored to continue our partnership with Greg Norman in sponsoring the 2008 Merrill Lynch Shootout, and to be celebrating our 20th year of bringing the Shootout to golf fans everywhere.  The event is a demonstration of excellence and achievement on the golf course, and we are privileged to combine forces with CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation to further their mission to reach the day when every child with cancer can be guaranteed a cure.” 

A snapshot of the 11 teams looking to dethrone Austin and Calcavecchia:

Greg Norman & Camilo Villegas – Norman, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, will match up well with one of the best young players in the game. The twosome will probably be doing some homework as they prepare to represent the International Team in next year’s Presidents Cup competition, where Norman is the captain. Villegas, won back-to-back titles during the FedEx Cup playoffs, including THE TOUR Championship, which vaulted him up the International points list to the No.2 spot.

Stewart Cink & Fred Couples – This twosome represented the U.S. on several Presidents Cup teams at the same time and will perhaps do so again next year. Couples will serve as captain and Cink, who was victorious at this year’s Travelers Championship, is a regular among the top 20 in the world rankings.

J.B. Holmes & Boo Weekley – When you are not watching Holmes launch drives beyond comprehension you can be entertained by the impeccable ball striking and down-home humor of Weekley. As evidenced by their success at the Ryder Cup and two individual titles during the 2008 season, this team has incredible talent and could be in contention coming down the stretch Sunday.

Paul Azinger & Rocco Mediate – Both enjoyed moments during the 2008 season that will long be remembered as incredible performances in golf lore. Because of their accomplishments they probably will be smiling all week regardless of the competition’s outcome. Azinger was captain of the victorious United States Ryder Cup and Mediate lived a dream as he battled Tiger Woods for the U.S. Open title.

Graeme McDowell & Ian Poulter – The always colorfully dressed Poulter was runner-up at the British Open earlier this year and had the best record among the Europeans in the Ryder Cup in September. He is joined by fellow Ryder Cup teammate McDowell, who won twice on the European Tour and finished 5th on the Order of Merit this year. This rookie team both ranked in the top 35 in the world could be tough to handle.

Scott Hoch & Kenny Perry – Have combined for five titles this year alone and 23 throughout the years. Hoch won twice on the Champions Tour and Perry three times on the PGA TOUR. Perry was also instrumental in front of his home crowd to help the U.S. to victory at the Ryder Cup in Louisville.

Chris DiMarco & Fred Funk – Here we have a Florida Gator and a Maryland Terrapin, who seem to never find the water. This team represents two of the most consistent ball-strikers in golf. While DiMarco has battled through injury this year, Funk split time on both Tours this year. He won twice on the Champions Tour and finished second in the season-long points race by 12 points to Jay Haas. 

Jerry Kelly & Steve Stricker – This snowbird team could cause loads of trouble for the field. Both live in Madison, Wisconsin and are among the toughest competitors on TOUR. Plus, Kelly knows how to win at Tiburón, having done so with Rod Pampling only two years ago.

Brad Faxon & Scott McCarron – This is one of the more dominant teams at the Merrill Lynch Shootout in the past eight years. They won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001 and finished second in 2003. This year will mark the fifth time this duo has teamed up at the Shootout. As individuals, both McCarron and Faxon are tied with Couples and Steve Elkington for the most Shootout victories with three.

Zach Johnson & Scott Verplank – Johnson’s 2007 Masters victory ignited more great performances from this sturdy competitor. He won in Atlanta and again a few weeks ago. The two compliment each other well as Verplank, a five-time winner continues another consistent year. Note: these two won the 2006 Wendy’s 3 Tour Challenge.

Nick Price & Jeff Sluman – This partnership of major champions is worth watching. While both spend more of their time on the Champions Tour these days, they combine for a solid threat. Hall of Fame member Price has over 40 victories worldwide while Sluman has been one of the game’s most consistent competitors.
 
The Merrill Lynch Shootout will once again feature a modified alternate shot format during the first round, a better ball Saturday and a final-round scramble. Golf Channel will televise Friday's coverage and NBC will broadcast the weekend activities.

Entering its 20th year, the Merrill Lynch Shootout was created by Norman to raise awareness and charitable offerings for the CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Tickets for Southwest Florida’s only PGA TOUR sanctioned event are on sale now. Orders can be placed three ways - calling 888-66-SHARK, visiting Alf’s Golf Shop in Naples or online at www.mlshootout.com. For the latest Merrill Lynch Shootout news and information, please visit the official tournament Website at www.mlshootout.com.

Alphabetical List of Participating Professionals 

 

Woody Austin Scott Hoch Kenny Perry
Paul Azinger J.B. Holmes Ian Poulter
Mark Calcavecchia Zach Johnson Nick Price
Stewart Cink Jerry Kelly Jeff Sluman
Fred Couples Scott McCarron Steve Stricker
Chris DiMarco Graeme McDowell Scott Verplank
Brad Faxon Rocco Mediate Camilo Villegas
Fred Funk Greg Norman  Boo Weekley


The Teams 

 

Greg Norman – Camilo Villegas Scott Hoch – Kenny Perry
Woody Austin – Mark Calcavecchia Chris DiMarco – Fred Funk
Stewart Cink – Fred Couples Jerry Kelly – Steve Stricker
J.B. Holmes – Boo Weekley Brad Faxon – Scott McCarron
Paul Azinger – Rocco Mediate Zach Johnson – Scott Verplank
Graeme McDowell – Ian Poulter Nick Price – Jeff Sluman

About Merrill Lynch
Merrill Lynch is one of the world's leading wealth management, capital markets and advisory companies with offices in 40 countries and territories and total client assets of approximately $1.5 trillion. As an investment bank, it is a leading global trader and underwriter of securities and derivatives across a broad range of asset classes and serves as a strategic advisor to corporations, governments, institutions and individuals worldwide. Merrill Lynch owns approximately half of BlackRock, one of the world's largest publicly traded investment management companies with more than $1 trillion in assets under management. For more information on Merrill Lynch, please visit www.ml.com.

About Tiburón Golf ClubTiburón, a 36-hole Greg Norman-design course was carved from 800 acres of prime southwest Florida real estate. The courses reflect Norman’s appreciation for pristine natural settings and his passion for great golf. The Black and The Gold courses contain a combination of stacked sod-wall bunkers and tricky coquina waste bunkers. Certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary by Audubon International, Tiburón reflects a strong commitment to enhancing and protecting the natural resources.

About CureSearch
CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation proudly supports the collaborative research efforts of the world's largest and most prestigious childhood cancer research organization, CureSearch Children's Oncology Group. At more than 200 member institutions – representing every pediatric cancer program and treating 90 percent of children with cancer in North America – CureSearch is making rapid scientific progress to identify cancer causes and pioneer better treatments and cures. CureSearch is dedicated to reaching the day when every child with cancer can be guaranteed a cure. For more information visit www.CureSearch.org or call 800.458.6223.

About The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, NaplesThe Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples is the proud recipient of AAA’s highest honor: The Five-Diamond Award, establishing it as one of the greatest resorts in the country. The resort also scored an impressive ranking as the #1 resort in Florida in Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s annual reader’s poll and #3 in Florida by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. In the November 2004 issue of Golf Digest magazine, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort was ranked as the No. #1 luxury golf resort in Florida and No. #25 in North America, beating out some of the long-standing top golf resorts in the country. The 295-room resort is Florida’s finest luxury golf resort and is renowned for its incredible cuisine, outstanding service and luxurious rooms with panoramic views of the Greg Norman-designed golf course.

 
 

Shelby Hammond
Communications Manager
Email Shelby
(240) 235-2205



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