LPGA stars at Grant Thornton leave PGA Tour men in awe of their skill on the green


There hasn’t been a mixed event bringing the PGA and LPGA Tours together since 1999. That finally ended until this year as they joined forces for the Grant Thornton Invitational.

Each day will feature a different format for the three-day 54-hole event.

There are 16 teams in the event, with each comprised of one LPGA and one PGA star.

In Round 1, scores were crazy low, as they played a scramble. Among the 16 teams in the field, nine shot 59 or better. It was a birdie fest, and the putts were dropping.

Following the first few groups, a trend quickly emerged. These women can flat-out putt. Leona Maguire and Lucas Glover, who fired off a bogey-free 57 together, made 11 straight birdies.

Rose Zhang and Sahith Theegala recorded a 14-under 58, including 10 birdies down the stretch. Nick Taylor and Ruoning Yin matched the California duo with a 58.

While the guys had the length off the tee, the women got the job done on the greens.

Their male partners acknowledged it, too. All four knew how good the ladies were, but the evidence was even more noticeable after that first round.

Glover did his research before this week, which proved beneficial.

“I knew pretty early on, just get her on the green as close as possible, and I wouldn’t have to putt much,” Glover said. “Yeah, when I saw our pairing, I checked everything out, and I’d watched some of the Solheim Cup recently anyway.”

They worked well together and his strategy worked. When he got her on the green, she sank the putt. There were very few instances where her ball didn’t find the bottom of the cup in one stroke.

The same could be said for Theegala and Zhang. They worked well together, and since they’d known each other since childhood, he knew he had to have her as a partner. After their round, he bragged about Zhang’s putting ability.

Grant Thornton Invitational, Rose Zhang, Sahith Theegala

Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

“I think a part of her game that doesn’t get talked about much is her putting,” Theegala said. “Even before this week, watching her on TV, she hits her line every single time. That gave me a lot of confidence, too, knowing that I’m going to be getting perfect reads all week.”

Taylor’s playing partner, Ruoning Yin, helped carry the load on the greens.

“Ruoning made a bunch of putts just to keep us in it and get us going, so birdieing the last seven holes is always a fun way to finish,” he said.

It seemed every male partner had to brag about the ladies’ putting abilities, and it was clear why.

However, this trend could extend to the women’s short game, especially with World No. 1 Lilia Vu, who put on a clinic around the greens as well.

Her playing partner, Joel Dahmen, also did his homework on his playing partner Lilia Vu.

“I’m not the greatest putter in history,” Dahmen said. “I’m getting better. I got better a lot today. But I hit it in play a lot. I hit a lot of greens, and then watching her make all the putts is going to be really fun. I’m just going to be celebrating on the side as she’s rolling in all the putts.”

Dahmen did just that. He was Vu’s biggest cheerleader on Friday.

She also made a massive eagle chip-in on the par-5 14th, giving Dahmen a perfect chance to show off his celebration. He knows he hit the partner jackpot with Vu. She is red hot on the course right now, and her short game on Friday proved that.

The women came ready to play and impress in this inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational. With a daunting Day 2 foursome/alternate shot format awaiting them, it was important to go low on Friday.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.





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