NAPLES, Fla. — Ryan Palmer and Harold Varner III were an unlikely pairing.

But the two did something Friday that’s never been bettered in 31 years of the QBE Shootout.

Palmer and Varner shot a 17-under-par 55 to tie the record for the scramble format, and take a two-shot lead at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

Some of the 12 two-person teams are set up ahead of time. Maybe they’re close friends, or have the same agent, or something like that. Then others are simply matching together two of the remaining players.

“Ryan was in and I was the odd ball out and I talked to Taylor (Ives of management company Wasserman Sports) and it worked out,” Varner said.

“He’s got a 66 scoring average for the weekend, so I’ll take him,” Palmer said.

QBE SHOOTOUT: Saturday’s Round 2 tee times

Varner hadn’t played since the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico a month ago, and had spent that time moving into a new house.

“I like playing golf, but the best thing that happened was when I got here, Ryan was like, ‘I want to have a chance to win,’ and I’m like, ‘All right, bro. I haven’t touched a club in a while,’” Varner said.

Nevertheless, Palmer and Varner paired together fantastically. They closed with an eagle on No. 17 by Palmer, and Varner drained a 20-footer on No. 18 to tie a record held by four other teams.

“(Palmer) almost made it, so I just tried to hit it close to where he hit it, just a little firmer, and lucky enough for it to go in,” Varner said.

“They played incredible golf,” said Jason Kokrak.

So did Kokrak and J.T. Poston, just not as good. They shot 15 under and are two back. Kevin Tway and Rory Sabbatini and Kevin Kisner and Charley Hoffman — who had a hole-in-one — are tied for third at 14 under.

Former Oklahoma State teammates Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland struggled to a 7-under 65 and are in last. LPGA Tour star Lexi Thompson and two-time winner Sean O’Hair shot a 64. Defending champions Brian Harman and Patton Kizzire are 10th at 10 under.

Teams will play modified alternate shot on Saturday, with each golfer teeing off, one drive being chosen, and then players alternating the rest of the hole.

Palmer and Varner birdied every hole but No. 5 and No. 16.

“Yeah we’re going to go back and talk about those two holes,” Palmer joked. “We had a little mental lapse.

“We brought it back hard. I told Harold ‘Take 17 off, hitting driver, 5-wood and making the putts.’”

Palmer credited Varner for making most of the 15 birdies, many times, just like on No. 18, after he had come close.

“I was fortunate enough to hit some good putts that didn’t go in and he just rolled them right in,” Palmer said. “The putts he made, I’m curious how many feet of putts he made today, which was pretty good. We hit a lot of close ones, too.”

Correspondent Dave Kempton contributed to this article.

Round 1 scores

Players Score
Ryan Palmer-Harold Varner III -17
Jason Kokrak-J.T. Poston -15
Rory Sabbatini-Kevin Tway -14
Charley Hoffman-Kevin Kisner -14
Billy Horschel-Brendon Todd -13
Charles Howell III-Bubba Watson -13
Kevin Chappell-Chez Reavie -12
Corey Conners-Andrew Putnam -11
Graeme McDowell-Ian Poulter -11
Brian Harman-Patton Kizzire -10
Sean O’Hair-Lexi Thompson -8
Viktor Hovland-Matthew Wolff -7

QBE Shootout

Where: Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort

When: Through Sunday

Info: qbeshootout.com

TV: Saturday, Golf Channel, Noon-4 p.m.; Sunday, Golf Channel, Noon-4 p.m.



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