Power Rankings: Grant Thornton Invitational
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Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf
What do you get for the golf fan who has everything? How about a competition that hasn’t been staged in the 21st century?
This week’s Grant Thornton Invitational consists of 16 two-person teams, each represented by one golfer on the PGA TOUR and one on the LPGA. It’s the first of its kind for which the circuits have joined forces since the last edition of the JCPenney Classic in 1999. So, for the most recent fans of the sport, this is new.
All teams are slotted below for a full-field Power Rankings. Beneath them are details on the course, the format and other information.
|Mel Reid-Russell Henley
|If opposites attract, then this twosome is poised to surprise. A classic connection of the most accurate hitter on the PGA TOUR and one of the longest on the LPGA. Henley has been on a tear, too.
|Leona Maguire-Lucas Glover
|Maguire was runner-up at the 2022 CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburón. She also picked off a victory in mid-June of 2023. Glover has quieted since connecting wins in August.
|Allisen Corpuz-Cameron Champ
|After a challenging regular season, Champ walked off the FedExCup Fall by going 5-for-5 with two top 20s. The ball-striking Corpuz won the U.S. Women’s Open over the summer.
|Lydia Ko-Jason Day
|With a combined 32 titles on their home circuits, they are the most decorated team in the field. Both have scuffled more than they’ve thrived recently, but each is a former champion at Tiburón.
|Charley Hull-Justin Rose
|If Rose wanted to cover for his inexperience at Tiburón – this is his first appearance – he has it in his fellow Brit. Hull recorded six straight top-15 finishes beginning with her 2016 title.
|Andrea Lee-Billy Horschel
|Arguably today’s most noticeable brand ambassadors for Ralph Lauren, now they get to partner inside the ropes. Horschel is making his 11th straight start at Tiburón; he has seven top fives.
|Lexi Thompson-Rickie Fowler
|Fowler has cooled since a red-hot summer and season overall, but Thompson has come on strong in her last four starts. She’s also finished first, T2, fourth, T5, T6 and eighth at Tiburón.
|Cheyenne Knight-Tom Hoge
|Hoge prevailed at Tiburón last year (with Sahith Theegala), so he might have the feels of a defending champion. He and Knight share a similar skill set and both have shown recent flashes.
|Lilia Vu-Joel Dahmen
|Dahmen might be wondering what he did right for his debut at Tiburón. Vu is the women’s top-ranked golfer in the world, won two majors this year and was recently named the Rolex Player of the Year.
|Madelene Sagström-Ludvig Åberg
|Swedes unite, but with how Åberg has been going, it’s almost unfair that he gets a teammate even in a team format. Sagström has gone T13-T22-T13-T16 at Tiburón since 2020.
|Ruoning Yin-Nick Taylor
|It seemed to take a minute for Taylor’s feet to return to earth after his epic win at home in Canada, but Yin had a better year overall with two wins (including a major) among six podiums.
|Megan Khang-Denny McCarthy
|Sneaky favorite to challenge. Each relies on the shortest clubs to score, and no one is better inside 10 feet than McCarthy. Both are recent top-10 machines; Khang won in August.
|Brooke Henderson-Corey Conners
|This collaboration features the top-ranked golfers in Canada. Both were winners in 2023, competed in their respective tour championships and are efficient flag hunters.
|Céline Boutier-Harris English
|Boutier won four times in 2023, including The Amundi Evian Championship, a major in her native France. She’s ranked third in the world. English is a three-time champion at Tiburón.
|Rose Zhang-Sahith Theegala
|Theegala took the title here last year (with Tom Hoge) and just broke through on the PGA TOUR. Zhang won her first pro event right after defending her individual title at the NCAA Championship.
|Nelly Korda-Tony Finau
|Relative to their respective tours, they have the same profile, so how they tackle the format will be compelling. Each is in terrific form. Korda, No. 5 in the world, has five top 10s at Tiburón.
The 54-hole stroke-play tournament starts on Friday and concludes on Sunday. It’s held on the Gold Course at Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. The stock par 72 hosted the QBE Shootout from 2001 to 2022, and it’s the annual site of the CME Group Tour Championship in which 12 LPGA members in this week’s field competed in mid-November, so it’s familiar to most.
The stout field boasts outstanding talent from both tours, including the four golfers who won the five majors on the LPGA, all of the top four in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and 12 Solheim Cuppers.
While building relationships and having a good time is a through line for the week, there’s still $4 million up for grabs, so the competitive juices will be flowing. The winning team earns $1 million.
The festivities begin with a traditional scramble on Friday, so everyone will have the promise to hit the ground running with a low score.
Saturday’s second round will be Foursomes (traditional alternate shot), with one partner teeing off on odd-numbered holes and the other partner on the evens. Only that ball will be used to determine the score on each hole.
The finale on Sunday is a modified Four-Ball. Every golfer will tee off on every hole, and then the partner will complete the hole with the other’s ball. It will introduce strategies with a blend of offense and defense.
Classic conditions are on tap. Passing clouds will accompany moderate breezes for the first and second rounds. Increased cloud cover can be expected with a mild rise in a threat of rain during the final round. Daytime highs will approach or eclipse 80 degrees.
NOTE: Next week’s PNC Championship also is a two-person team event, but there will not be a Power Rankings. PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf will resume with The Sentry on Jan. 4-7, 2024.
Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.