A four-under final-round tally wasn’t enough to see Leona Maguire and Lucas Glover seriously contend at the Grant Thornton Invitational as the duo fell to tied sixth place as low-scoring was the order of the day in the modified fourball format.
After alternating tee shots on each hole, each player played their own ball from there and six straight pars – including two par-fives – saw them lose ground early on. The first birdie of the day arrived on the seventh, and they followed it with further birdies at 11, 13 and 17.
Disappointingly, the four-under tally was the fewest strokes gained in the 16-team field, with Ludvig Aberg and Madelene Sagstrom combining for a 12-under total on the day to climb to solo third, one stroke behing Corey Connors and Brooke Henderson who also shot up the board with a round of -9.
“It was cool,” Sagstrom said afterwards. “It was a little bit more fun, I think, than just the straight-up like better ball. I thought it was kind of cool. You really have to rely on your partner from the tee. It’s not just up to you anymore.”
“I mean, every shot is important,” Aberg added. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a tee ball or a putt. Every shot matters, and I think it was a nice little mix to throw in the switch. I think we said before the week that keeping track of the formats was going to be one of the bigger challenges, but I thought we did a pretty good job. I don’t think we messed up once actually, so I think that’s a pretty good judgment.”
36-hole leaders Jason Day and Lydia Ko did just enough to hold on to their advantage throughout, making six birdies in their round of 66 to take victory by the smallest of margins. A routine two-putt par on the final hole by Ko was the final action of the event.
“I think the second day we really needed to kind of nail the format down because obviously alternate shot is the hardest format, I believe,” said Day. “But walking away from this week, I think it’s been a huge success. I think a lot of the guys have had a lot of fun playing with the women this week, and I think it’s been a great partnership between the LPGA and the PGA Tour.
“I feel like the fans and the players have been wanting something like this for a long time.
It was just fun.”
The New Zealand and Australian combo have three majors between them and have both been ranked number one in the world, and they’ll share the $1 million first prize cheque.
“There’s normally an Australian and New Zealand rivalry, but that was not there this week,” admitted Ko. “Playing the practice round on Tuesday I think was really helpful for me. In ways I think I’m a little introverted, so when I meet someone new and that person happens to be Jason, it’s not like the most comfortable situation to be in.
“But he kept asking me questions and was so nice that I think it made me feel like five, six days ago wasn’t the first time I had met him and his caddie Luke. This week I think every player that’s here, whether it’s the PGA Tour player or LPGA player, I think we’re here for more than just the prize money and winning. It’s about the growth of the game.”
Maguire and Glover share $185,000 for their two-way tie for sixth.