Will LPGA players do the heavy lifting at Grant Thornton? — Reactions to the rollback announcement — Must-click women’s golf links

The IX: Golf Thursday with Addie Parker, Dec. 7, 2023

So, it’s been a week (to say the least). From the LPGA Q Series wrapping up to the big-time announcement from the USGA and R&A about the new golf ball rollback — we have much to discuss on this glorious Golf Thursday, let’s dive in.

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It’s finally here, the Grant Thornton Invitational, an inaugural event bringing together some of the world’s most elite golfers at Tiburón Golf Club (yes the same club as the CME Tour Championship).

This invitational is not the first of its kind. From the 1960s through 1999, a mixed-team tournament existed on an annual basis, collecting a series of various names — the Haig & Haig Scotch Foursomes, the Pepsi-Cola Mixed Team, and finally, the JC Penney Classic — just to name a couple.

Excitement has been looming around this event since it was announced back in February and now that the week is finally here…there’s a ruminating thought I can’t quite shake.

Looking back at previous mixed events, you’ll notice that women’s golf’s biggest names have always been front and center: Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, JoAnne Carner, Beth Daniel, Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Juli Inkster, Laura Davies. Flashforward to the present day we have five of the top-10 players in the Rolex Rankings (Lilia Vu, Ruoning Yin, Celine Boutier, Nelly Korda, and Charley Hull) and all four major champions (Vu, Yin, Corpuz, Boutier).

Whereas on the men’s side, the highest-ranked player in the field is Jason Day, sitting at No.19 in the world. Impressive, but there’s certainly a disparity in terms of ranking and (dare I say) popularity. The most fan-favorite name on the PGA Tour’s side of things is Rickie Fowler — and I can almost guarantee that he and Lexi Thompson will be, one of, if not the most, followed group all weekend long.

The rest of the teams are:

  • Sahith Theegala/Rose Zhang
  • Rickie Fowler/Lexi Thompson
  • Tony Finau/Nelly Korda
  • Jason Day/Lydia Ko
  • Corey Conners/Brooke Henderson
  • Joel Dahmen/Lilia Vu
  • Justin Rose/Charley Hull
  • Denny McCarthy/Megan Khang
  • Harris English/Celine Boutier
  • Billy Horschel/Andrea Lee
  • Russell Henley/Mel Reid
  • Tom Hoge/Cheyenne Knight
  • Ludvig Åberg/Madelene Sagstrom
  • Cameron Champ/Allisen Corpuz
  • Nick Taylor/Ruoning Yin
  • Lucas Glover/Leona Maguire

But let’s continue on this path of who is in the field and how the tours compare. Three players in the field competed in the 2023 Ryder Cup; one for the United States (Rickie Fowler) and two for Europe (Ludvig Åberg, Justin Rose). 12 players in the field competed at the 2023 Solheim Cup; eight for the United States (Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson, Lilia Vu, Rose Zhang, Megan Khang, Andrea Lee, Cheyenne Knight, Allisen Corpuz) and four for Europe (Charley Hull, Celine Boutier, Madelene Sagstrom, Leona Maguire). 11 of the 32 players in the field have won a major, including eight for the LPGA Tour (Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson, Lilia Vu, Brooke Henderson, Lydia Ko, Celine Boutier, Allisen Corpuz, Ruoning Yin) and three for the PGA Tour (Jason Day, Lucas Glover, Justin Rose).

When looking at the stats and rankings — it’s a fair assessment to say that the women of the LPGA have the advantage this week — and their male counterparts agree. Joel Dahmen, who is paired up with world No.1 Lilia Vu this week had a fun tongue-in-cheek moment at their pre-tournament presser, “I mean, you’re [Vu] — my paycheck depends on you this week… I mean, she’s won four times this year. I haven’t won four times since I was like 12. To watch her kind of handle everything that comes out of this week is going to be awesome.”

In their Wednesday presser, Tony Finau also had nothing but praise for his partner Nelly Korda, so these men know and see the value of what these women can do. And I’m almost certain that the top players (specifically in the top 10 and a few others, *cough cough* Jordan Speith and Justin Thomas) also feel the same way towards LPGA players, so where are they this week?

Grant Thornton was strategically scheduled to be one of the final events on both tours’ schedules, so we can rule out that issue. The PGA Tour players who competed in Tiger’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas last week had a short ride plane ride to Naples (just over an hour), so we can rule out the travel piece.

But these sponsorship things are tricky and quite political, and these days appearance fees are worth more than the purses, but I’d like to think that the same men turning down hundreds of millions of dollars from the PIF and LIV would also think about the bigger picture and show out for this inaugural week that puts women’s golf center stage, for the sake of “growing the game”.

A team I was so sure we’d see was Max Homa (world No.7) and Danielle Kang — given their friendship — but maybe next year?

Nevertheless, this feels like a fitting way to end the year for both tours — a fun, refreshing week of golf with different formatting to shake things up. Round one begins tomorrow with coverage happening on Golf Channel and Peacock, you can find the full coverage schedule here.

Until next time!

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This week in women’s golf

If you have links you wish to share for Golf Thursday, sources for golf news, or want to talk about anything at all, you can email me at addieparker25@theixsports.com ! Discussion of any kind is always welcome…I mean it…MESSAGE ME!


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Five at The IX: Tweet (or X) reactions to the golf ball rollback

Well the biggest golf news this week has absolutely been the golf ball rollback announcement made by the USGA and R&A. The LPGA has released the following statement:

The LPGA is appreciative of the leadership and stewardship of the USGA and The R&A on a variety of topics within the game, including today’s announcement regarding the anticipated changes to the rules governing distance. While we do not feel there is a distance issue in the women’s game, we recognize the need for the USGA and the R&A to address complex challenges and ensure the game’s continued long-term growth, success and sustainability...

We will continue to study the data the USGA and The R&A have shared and the effect these proposed changes will have on the women’s recreational, junior, amateur and professional game in 2028 and 2030; and we will continue to advocate for the advancement of the women’s game at every level.

Here are a few reactions that give this situation a bit more context.

Ladies and gentlemen, the wonderful Jenny Shin.

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Written by Addie Parker