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PGA Tour pros react to Grant Thornton Invitational mixed-team event

PGA Tour pros react to Grant Thornton Invitational mixed-team event

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – It wasn’t all that long ago that Cole Hammer played in mixed-team events like the Palmer Cup and the AJGA’s Wyndham Cup. At the University of Texas, the men’s and women’s teams often practiced alongside each other at their home course, so the idea of one day playing with a fellow Longhorn at the new PGA Tour and LPGA co-sanctioned Grant Thornton Invitational appeals strongly to the 23-year-old.

“I think this has been a long time coming,” said Hammer, who ended his career at Texas last spring with a national title and teed it up this week at the Valspar Championship.

Earlier in the week, Brad Faxon was telling Hammer about the time he partnered with Karrie Webb at Innisbrook for the JCPenney Classic. They were grouped with Tiger Woods and Kelli Kuehne that year.

The Grant Thornton event will be the first mixed-team co-sanctioned event between the two tours since John Daly and Laura Davies won the final edition of the JCPenney Classic in 1999. The roll call of winners from that event is a who’s who, particularly among the women.

The JCPenney dates back to 1978 and was hosted at Innisbrook, site of the Valspar, from 1990 to 1999. The history of mixed events between the tours actually dates back to 1960 with the Haig & Haig Scotch Foursome. Dave Ragan won it twice with the great Mickey Wright.

The Grant Thornton is set to debut Dec. 8-10 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, as part of the Challenge Season. The 32-player field will be comprised of 16 PGA Tour and 16 LPGA players competing for a $4 million purse. The three-day event will be televised by NBC and Golf Channel for a total of nine hours of live coverage.

So far only two teams have been announced and all four players are Grant Thornton ambassadors. Nelly Korda will partner with Tony Finau while her sister Jessica pairs with Rickie Fowler. Cameron Champ and Mel Reid are also sponsored by the audit, tax and advisory firm.

Justin Thomas, who typically plays in the PNC Championship the following week with his father Mike, said he’s not yet sure of his summer schedule let alone what he’ll play in December, but felt the LPGA would get more of the exposure it deserves, and that players will develop some cool friendships along the way.

“I mean, I’m very close with Jess, and I’m not as close with Nelly as I am Jess, so my two partners that I had potentially in my mind are taken already,” he said, laughing.

Stewart Cink played in the old JCPenney for…


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