2023 Grant Thornton Invitational Preview
Golf's so-called silly season continues this week with an innovative event that brings together stars from the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour.
Mixed tournaments have become pretty commonplace on the DP World Tour but the Grant Thornton Invitational is something new on the other side of the pond. And about time too.
The tournament is being played at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. It will feature 16 teams playing scramble, foursomes and fourball formats, each played in consecutive rounds of the three-day professional competition.
The tournament’s 32-player field - which will be evenly comprised of PGA Tour and LPGA Tour professionals playing in 16 mixed teams - will compete for a purse of $4 million, while experiencing a different format each day.
It will unfold like this:
Friday, Opening Round, Scramble
Each player hits a tee shot and then the team selects the ball to be used for the next stroke. From there, both players hit their next shots from that spot. This process continues until the ball is holed.
According to Nelly Korda, who will be partnering Tony Finau: “Scramble on Friday is going to be full of scoring opportunities and I can’t wait to strategize with Tony on every shot.”
Saturday, Second Round, Foursomes
This is the most traditional of the three days, adhering to a format that is consistently featured in both the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup. Each team’s players alternate hitting shots with the same ball until the ball is holed. One player will tee off on the odd-numbered holes, and the other tees off on the even-numbered holes.
Finau said: “Alternate shot is a grind and probably the most challenging team format in golf. Nelly and I are going to need to bring our best on Saturday.”
Sunday, Final Round, Modified Four-Balls
This final round will feature a format new to team play and a twist on traditional Four-Ball. In the modified format, both players tee off, and then they switch balls for their second shots and play that same ball until it is holed. The lower score of the partners is then counted as the team score for the hole.
Rickie Fowler, who teams up with Lexi Thompson, sees the format as both challenging and unique: “Playing our partner’s tee shots is going to be the ultimate test of teamwork and I’m really excited to play this format, not having seen it before on tour.”
The full line-up is as follows:
Nelly Korda & Tony Finau
Korda, 25, has accumulated eight career victories and Finau, 34, has six. Finau won twice this season and Korda has recorded seven top 10 finishes so far. Combined, they have 11 top 10 finishes this season. Both have been members of a national team multiple times. Korda is one of 12 LPGA Tour players in the field who competed in this year’s Solheim Cup. Both Korda and Finau are also Grant Thornton ambassadors.
Lexi Thompson & Rickie Fowler
Thompson, 28, and Fowler, 34, have a combined 17 career titles as professionals. Thompson is an 11- time LPGA Tour winner, two-time Olympian and has played on six U.S. Solheim Cup teams, including this year. Fowler has five Ryder Cup appearances, including this year, and played in one Olympics. He is also a Grant Thornton ambassador.
Lilia Vu & Joel Dahmen
Vu, 26, is a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour, with all three victories coming this season, including two major championships. She is currently No. 1 in the world and is another player in the field who appeared in the Solheim Cup this year. Dahmen, 35, has won once on the PGA Tour and five of his 22 career top 10 finishes have occurred this season.
Brooke Henderson & Corey Conners
This Canadian team has a combined 15 career victories and represented Team Canada at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Henderson, 26, is a two-time major champion and Conners, 31, has won the Valero Texas Open for his two career titles. This team has a total of seven top 10 finishes this year, two of which were victories.
Rose Zhang & Sahith Theegala
This is the youngest team in the field, with Zhang age 20 and Theegala age 25. Both of these West Coast players (Zhang attended Stanford and Theegala attended Pepperdine) earned their first career victories this season. Along with those wins were a combined 11 top 10 finishes, with Theegala recording five top 5 finishes. Zhang also won her second NCAA individual title this year.
Charley Hull & Justin Rose
Hull, 27, and Rose, 43, each represented England on Europe’s victorious Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup teams this September. It was the sixth appearance on these teams for each of them. Both players were also on England’s Olympic team in 2016 and Rose won the gold medal that year. Combined, they have 143 top 10 finishes during their careers.
Megan Khang & Denny McCarthy
Khang, 25, earned her first career victory this year while McCarthy, 30, came up just short, falling in a playoff in May. Combined, they have 57 top 10 finishes in their careers, with seven of McCarthy’s 22 top 10 finishes coming this season, while five of Khang’s 35 top 10 finishes were recorded this season.
Lydia Ko & Jason Day
Each of these former World No. 1 players have the most individual career titles in the field. Ko, 26, from New Zealand, has won 19 times, including two majors and Day, 35, from Australia, has won 13 times, including one major. Day has had a nice comeback season with eight top 10 finishes, including a win.
Céline Boutier & Harris English
Boutier, 29, has won five times, including a major championship, on the LPGA Tour and English, 34, has won four times on the PGA Tour. Boutier earned three of her career wins plus seven top 10 finishes this season and currently leads the race in the CME Globe standings. Harris has five top 10 finishes this season and knows the Tiburon layout well having won the QBE Shootout three times there.
Andrea Lee & Billy Horschel
Lee, 25, and Horschel, 36, have a combined eight wins during their careers. Lee played in her first Solheim Cup this year and Horschel played in his first-ever professional team event last year at the Presidents Cup. Each player has recorded three top 10 finishes this season.
Mel Reid & Russell Henley
Reid, 36, and Henley, 34, have a combined five career victories on their respective tours. Reid has been a member of four European Solheim Cup teams in her career, the third most among LPGA Tour players in the field. Together, they have six top 10 finishes this year, one of those being a victory for Henley. Reid is also a Grant Thornton ambassador.
Cheyenne Knight & Tom Hoge
Together, these two have three career victories, with each player winning in the past two years. Knight, 26, won her second career title this season and was one of the 12 players in the field who played in the Solheim Cup. Hoge, 34, won his first tournament last year and followed that up with a win in Naples alongside Theegala last December. This team has nine top 10 finishes this season.
Madelene Sagstrom & Ludvig Aberg
This Swedish team has had an impressive year so far, as both were on the winning teams in the Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup in September. While Sagstrom, 30, was making her third appearance for Team Europe, Aberg, 23, was a rookie having turned professional just three months prior. Sagstrom had a 1-1-1 record and Aberg was 2-2-0. Aberg won the Omega European Masters and lost in a playoff recently on the PGA Tour for his second top 10 finish.
Allisen Corpuz & Cameron Champ
Corpuz, 30, and Champ, 28, have a combined four career victories. The first of Champ’s three wins on the PGA Tour was in 2019, and Corpuz won for the first time this season at the U.S. Women’s Open. Corpuz was a member of the U.S. team this year for her first Solheim Cup and went 2-0-0 with Nelly Korda in foursomes. Champ is also a Grant Thornton ambassador.
Ruoning Yin & Nick Taylor
Yin, 21, from China, and Taylor, 35, from Canada, have a combined five career wins, with three of those coming this year. Yin won the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship for her first major championship and Taylor won his country’s national championship at the Canadian Open, becoming the first Canadian in 69 years to do so.
Leona Maguire & and Lucas Glover
Ireland’s Maguire, 28, has two career victories, including one this season. She also was on the victorious Solheim Cup team in September, making her second appearance for Europe. Glover, 43, experienced a resurgence late this summer with back-to-back wins on the PGA Tour. He has six career wins, including a U.S. Open.
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