The inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational gets underway on Friday at Tiburón Golf Club, featuring 16 teams comprised of players from both the LPGA and PGA Tours in the first mixed-team event since the 1999 JC Penney Classic. Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1 Lilia Vu, 11-time LPGA Tour winner Lexi Thompson and Olympic gold medalist Nelly Korda are some of the headliners for the LPGA Tour while the PGA Tour will see major champions Jason Day, Lucas Glover and Justin Rose as well as up-and-comers Ludvig Aberg and Sahith Theegala tee it up on the Gold Course. Here’s a look at a few teams to keep your eye on at the Grant Thornton Invitational.
Charley Hull/Justin Rose
The British duo of Charley Hull and Justin Rose could be one of the sleeper teams this week at the Grant Thornton Invitational, even with some incredible star power between them. Hull had a solid 2023 LPGA Tour season, recording five top-10 finishes, four of which were runner-up results. She most notably finished in a tie for second at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links and was solo second at the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club. She has quite the history at Tiburón Golf Club, winning the 2016 CME Group Tour Championship and finishing T16 or better six other times, one of which was a runner-up result in 2019. According to KPMG Performance Insights, the 27-year-old finished the season inside the top 20 in three statistical strokes gained categories, ranking 14th in strokes gained total (+1.35), 15th in strokes gained putting (+0.71) and 16th in strokes gained around the green (+0.27).
Rose finally broke through on the PGA Tour this season, winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February by three shots over Brendon Todd and Brandon Wu. It was his 11th career victory and first since the Farmers Insurance Open in 2019 with a span of 1,471 days between wins. Like Hull, the 2013 U.S. Open champion ended the year ranked inside the top 20 on the PGA Tour in three strokes gained categories, including strokes gained total (14, +1.193), strokes gained approach (17, +0.560) and strokes gained around the green (20, +0.272). He’s also first in putts from 20-25 feet (24.69%), 13th in putts per round (28.22) and 26th in strokes gained putting (+0.404), which bodes well for the sometimes tricky greens at Tiburón Golf Club’s Gold Course.
Hull and Rose will play alongside Lydia Ko and Jason Day on Friday at 10:40 a.m. ET.
Leona Maguire/Lucas Glover
Leona Maguire and Lucas Glover are another team that could fly under everyone’s radar once play begins on Friday in Naples, Fla. Maguire picked up her second career LPGA Tour victory in June at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, winning by two shots over Ariya Jutanugarn, and then threatened to back that win up at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club’s Lower Course, ultimately finishing in a tie for 11th, her season-best result in a major championship. The 29-year-old recorded five top 10s in 2023 in addition to her win, tying for ninth and tying for sixth in her first two starts of the year at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and Honda LPGA Thailand, and then finishing third at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards and tying for seventh at the Mizuho Americas Open in back-to-back starts. She grabbed one last top-10 result at The Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America in October and ultimately finished 19th in the Race to the CME Globe with nearly 1,441 points. Statistically, the Irishwoman most notably ended the year at fifth on the LPGA Tour in strokes gained around the green (+0.45), and she has finished solo second (2022) and T12 (2021) in two of her four appearances at Tiburón Golf Club for the CME Group Tour Championship.
Glover had a revival this season on the PGA Tour, winning in back-to-back starts in August at the Wyndham Championship – which was his first victory since the 2021 John Deere Classic – and the FedEx St. Jude Championship, where he won in a playoff over Patrick Cantlay. The 43-year-old 2009 U.S. Open champion became just the third player to win back-to-back events in his 40s alongside Kenny Perry and Vijay Singh, and he was the first player to win in back-to-back starts since Tony Finau won the 3M Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic in 2022. He earned three other T6 or better finishes, tying for fourth at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, tying for sixth at the John Deere Classic and finishing solo fifth at the Barbasol Championship. Statistically, Glover finished the season ranked first on the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole at 32 feet 7 inches, fifth in driving accuracy (68.66%) and 15th in strokes gained approach (+0.566), all key stats that, coupled with Maguire’s past experience at Tiburón Golf Club, could prove deadly in the scramble, foursomes and modified four-ball formats.
Maguire and Glover tee off at 9:25 a.m. ET on Friday and will play with Madelene Sagstrom and Ludvig Aberg.
Madelene Sagstrom/Ludvig Aberg
A pair of Swedes have teamed up for the first edition of the Grant Thornton Invitational as Madelene Sagstrom is partnering with Ludvig Aberg this week at Tiburón Golf Club. Sagstrom was a member of the 2023 European Solheim Cup team and helped the Blue and Yellow retain the Cup for a third consecutive year in September at Finca Cortesin in Andalucia, Spain. While that was arguably the highlight of the 31-year-old’s year, she did find the top 10 three times this season on the LPGA Tour, tying for 10th at the Cognizant Founders Cup, tying for ninth at the FREED GROUP Women’s Scottish Open and tying for eighth at the Buick LPGA Shanghai. When it comes to Tiburón, Sagstrom will more than make up for her partner’s inexperience with the venue as she’s played in the CME Group Tour Championship five times. The 2020 Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio winner has finished in the top 25 in four of her five starts in Naples, Fla., tying for 13th twice in 2020 and 2022, tying for 22nd in 2021 and tying for 16th just a couple of weeks ago as the LPGA Tour wrapped up the 2023 season. Sagstrom was ninth this year in average driving distance at 272.33 yards and ranked 16th in strokes gained driving (+0.58) after the conclusion of the CME Group Tour Championship.
Aberg finished out his collegiate career at Texas Tech University and was No. 1 in the PGA Tour University standings, which earned him PGA Tour membership for the 2023 season. In just 11 total starts, the 24-year-old has captured one victory at the RSM Classic, winning by four shots over Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, and picked up three additional top-10 finishes, including a tie for fourth at the John Deere Classic, a tie for second at the Sanderson Farms Championship and a tie for 10th at the World Wide Technology Championship. Like his counterpart Sagstrom, Aberg helped Team Europe defeat the United States at the 2023 Ryder Cup, finishing with a 2-2-0 record in his debut in the biennial team event.
Sagstrom and Aberg will tee it up with Leona Maguire and Lucas Glover at 9:25 a.m. ET on Friday.
Lexi Thompson/Rickie Fowler
Two of the most well-known players in the field this week at the Grant Thornton Invitational, Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler, will compete as teammates at Tiburón Golf Club. Fowler was originally slated to play with his fellow Grant Thornton ambassador Jessica Korda, but the LPGA Tour winner announced on August 25 that she was expecting her first child with her husband Johnny DelPrete, and was unable to play. Thompson was then tapped to take her place, something that could prove fortuitous as she’s one of few players in the field who has experience playing in prior iterations of this event, doing so the past few years. The 28-year-old had a challenging 2023 LPGA Tour season, only managing to record three top-10 results and finishing 79th in the Race to the CME Globe, 19 spots outside of the top-60 cutoff for the CME Group Tour Championship, an event she had played in every year since 2011. But the 11-time LPGA Tour winner did find a bright spot at the Solheim Cup, earning three points for the United States with a 3-1-0 record en route to a 14-14 tie with the Europeans. Thompson won the 2018 CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburón and has recorded five other top-10 finishes in Naples, Fla., the best of which is a tie for second that came in 2017.
Fowler captured his first victory since the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open this year at the Rocket Mortgage Classic after defeating Adam Hadwin and Collin Morikawa in his first playoff since 2016. In addition to his win, the 34-year-old recorded seven other top-10 finishes during the 2022-2023 season, most notably tying for fifth at the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club. Statistically, Fowler finished the year ranked seventh on the PGA Tour in strokes gained approach (+0.74), 12th in strokes gained total (+1.426) and 19th in putting average (1.725). He has six career PGA Tour victories, most notably winning the PLAYERS Championship in 2015 in a playoff over Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner.
Fowler and Thompson will play in the final group alongside Nelly Korda and Tony Finau at 10:55 a.m. ET.