Norman entertained Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd ' the Australian stars partners in the inaugural 1986 event at Grand Cypress Resort ' on Thursday night during the tournament dinner.
To pick up the phone and get in touch with them to come over here and help celebrate the 20th anniversary is truly an honor, Norman said. Theyve been very much part of my success in my whole career, but theyve been very much a part of the success of the Merrill Lynch Shootout to where we are today.
The 1986 event was a fundraiser for what is now the Arnold Palmer Medical Center.
He really motivated and got a lot of people excited about doing things, Palmer said.
In 1989, a bigger version of the Shootout was started in California as the Ronald McDonald Childrens Charities Invitational, and was renamed the Shark Shootout in 1991. Its had a couple of changes in title sponsors over the years, with Merrill Lynch coming on board in 2007.
Palmer played in eight Shootouts, and Nicklaus played in four. Floyd, who played in nine, won with Fred Couples in 1990 and Steve Elkington in 1993. Norman has played in every one, taking the title with Elkington in a playoff in 1998.
Palmer and Nicklaus both had a second-place finish. Palmer and Peter Jacobsen were second in 1990, and Nicklaus was second with Norman in 1991. Norman changed partners the next year.
We almost had it right, and then he went out and got another partner, Nicklaus said Thursday at Tiburon Golf Club.
U.S. Ryder Cup players Boo Weekley and J.B. Holmes are paired together, while American teammates Stewart Cink, Steve Stricker and Kenny Perry and captain Paul Azinger also are playing. Cink will team with Fred Couples, Stricker with Wisconsin neighbor Jerry Kelly, and Perry with Scott Hoch. Azinger is paired with 2008 U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate.
European Ryder Cup members Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell are paired together, and Norman will team with Camilo Villegas, the winner of the PGA Tours last two FedEx Cup events. Villegas is ranked eighth in the world. Norman is the captain for next years 2009 International Presidents Cup team, and Couples is the U.S. team captain.
Other pairings are: Nick Price and Jeff Sluman, Chris DiMarco and Fred Funk, Brad Faxon and Scott McCarron, and Zach Johnson and Scott Verplank.
The tournament features a modified alternate-shot round Friday, best ball on Saturday and a scramble Sunday.
Woody Austin and Mark Calcavecchia are defending champions in the $2.9 million event. The winners will split $730,000.