PGA and LPGA Tour pros teamed up this week. What have they learned from each other?

PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players are together for this week’s Grant Thornton Invitational. What’ve they learned from each other?

The post PGA and LPGA Tour pros teamed up this week. What have they learned from each other? appeared first on Golf.

PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players are together for this week’s Grant Thornton Invitational. What’ve they learned from each other?

The post PGA and LPGA Tour pros teamed up this week. What have they learned from each other? appeared first on Golf.

Every week there’s plenty for golf fans to learn from watching PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. This week? They get to learn from each other.

The Grant Thornton Invitational has brought a fresh look to the fall schedule, replacing the longtime Shark Shootout with an event co-sanctioned by the two tours. Sixteen PGA Tour players are paired with 16 LPGA Tour players for the three-day competition. That means plenty of chances for PGA Tour pros to amaze their playing partners — and the other way around.

With one day remaining, the event seems from the outside like a massive success. Lydia Ko and Jason Day lead at 20 under par, with the big-hitting tandem of Tony Finau and Nelly Korda behind them at 18 under par, tied with the sweet-swinging Leona Maguire and Lucas Glover. Crowds filled the grandstands at Tiburon Golf Club. The broadcast showed Day and Ko and Rose Zhang signing autographs side by side, serving as a reminder: this is the good stuff.

It’s impossible to ignore the context of this week’s event, which is being played in parallel to Jon Rahm finalizing his LIV deal and works to help sign future teammates. But let’s ignore that for now, just for a moment, to appreciate the shared knowledge from first-time golf teammates.

Before the competition even began, Tony Finau said he was blown away by playing partner Nelly Korda and her stature in the game.

“I look up to Nelly,” he said. “Even though she’s younger than me, she’s an incredible golfer. She’s been the No. 1 player in the world in the women’s game, and she’s someone that I think quite frankly a lot of us can still even learn from on the men’s side.”

He also said he was looking for some specific advice.

“I’ll be looking to pick up a few tips,” he said. “Yesterday I asked her about chipping. She’s an incredible chipper on this Bermuda, growing up in Florida. I didn’t grow up on Bermuda, so I’m always trying to get little tips on how to chip around these greens, and she’s as good a chipper as you’ll see on Bermuda. I’m sure on any type of grass but especially Bermuda. I already picked up a few things just watching her yesterday.”

The praise was a two-way street.

“I love the way how athletic his entire game is,” Korda said of Finau. “He sees a shot, visualizes it, and then hits it, and I love that style of play. There’s not much overanalyzing, which I feel like that’s how I play, as well,” she said.

Another pre-tournament press conference introduced Joel Dahmen alongside partner and World No. 1 Lilia Vu; he was understandably excited with that draw.

“I hit it in play a lot, I hit a lot of greens and then to watch her make all the putts is going to be really fun,” he said. Vu added that she was nervous — Dahmen was having none of that.

“What is there to be nervous about? It’s the offseason, you’re the best player in the world, we’re just goofing off and we’re going to beat most players here,” he said.

Sahith Theegala said he admired what his partner Rose Zhang does before she even hits a shot.

“It’s been great for me, even before this tournament, just knowing how good just her process is and sticking to the same process over and over. I’ve definitely tried to take some of that and just try and get some of that rhythm through osmosis into my golf swing.”

As for Zhang? If she’s a model for process, repeatability and consistency, she admires the fire and unpredictability of her playing partner.

“It was so incredible just watching from on TV, his athleticism and his ability to just get out of trouble. Even just — he makes birdie from practically anywhere, from the bushes, from the trees,” she said. “Just his overall demeanor on the golf course, he’s very competitive,” she said. “Even though he’s really chill here, I really love the drive that he has when he’s out there. So I’ve definitely taken that and used it as inspiration as well.”

This is a week of new friends and new learnings. For World No. 2 Ruoning Yin, it marks the first time she’s played with PGA Tour pros.

“To be able to see them even just practice on the range, it’s a different feeling,” she said. “Sounds different. Like, they hit the ball so far, and it just sounds different, like high-quality shots.”

Corey Conners, who is playing with fellow Canadian Brooke Henderson, has played the QBE Shootout in recent years — and he was impressed with this year’s relative turnout. The idea seems to be working.

“Definitely a lot more people out here than I’ve experienced in the past,” he said.

Conners was also asked what male amateurs might be able to learn from watching LPGA pros. He rejected the premise of the question.

“I don’t think many amateur golfers in the world can do what they do. It’s been awesome to
watch and fun to be a part of,” he said.

“It’s astonishing. I don’t get to watch them up close very often myself. I knew they were really good, but I’ve really been blown away. The consistency, the way they handle themselves and manage their game is really, really impressive.”

He was among those who expressed an interest in more frequent crossover events.

“My hope is that it leads to more events where the PGA Tour players and LPGA players can compete with or against each other,” he said. “The girls are so impressive. It was really awesome watching Brooke and Ruoning out there today. It’s pretty sweet to be able to team up with them.”

Theegala described the LPGA pros as playing “a different game, almost.”

“Like, I think some of these fairways are very narrow and they’re still getting it 270, 275 right down the middle and we’re not that much longer than that. Even the approach shots are just so much tighter, the dispersion’s tighter. It’s cool to see. Yeah, it’s a lot of fun, too. It’s just fun.”

“Just being able to see them in person and alongside them, to be in the same group and play
kind of the same golf course at the same time is just a great honor for me,” Zhang added. “So much inspiration. There’s been so much for me to learn and slowly grow, develop.”

Just don’t expect the players from one Tour to copy everything their partners do. Take Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler, who wore matching outfits on Friday and Saturday and played their way into a share of fourth.

They won’t be on the same style page come Sunday, when Fowler will don his trademark shade of Pantone 021.

“I just don’t have a lot of orange,” Thompson admitted.

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