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Mixed event team is good for golf

News that the PGA Tour and LPGA are teaming together to restore a mixed-team event is good news.

The event, which will be known as the Grant Thornton Invitational, will take place in December at the Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, for three days and feature 16 players from both tours competing for $4 million.

The timing is perfect because December is when many of the elite men’s players are taking a break and the women are finished for the season.

There is a long history of this type of event, though it has been 25 years since it was last done. Known as the JC Penney Classic when the tournament began in 1978, there had been other events well before that.

It was a totally different time then because neither the PGA Tour nor the LPGA Tour enjoyed the prominence they do now with multiple TV networks broadcasting events. Moreover, the game has grown exponentially globally, grooming future stars.

Rickie Fowler (TaylorMade TP5 pix), one of the most marketable golfers in the world, will team up with Jessica Korda (Titleist Pro V1).

It’s becoming fairly obvious that inclusive events are part of the world in which we live. In the case of professional men’s and ladies golf, there are stars from both circuits who could raise the overall level of awareness for the sport.

I wonder, too, if this will lead to a mixed-team event in the Olympics. It happens in other sports.

SPIETH IS REALITY TV: You can have players talking to announcers during tournaments or a camera mounted on players’ bags providing some unique close-up shots, but the entertainment that never gets dull is watching Jordan Spieth (Titleist Pro V1x). He flirted with winning the Valspar Championship up until the final three holes. He sent his tee shot into the water on the 16th but made an amazing putt for a bogey when it appeared he was headed for a double bogey. On the 17th, his tee shot lands on the green, eight feet from the hole, and he misses. On the 18th hole, his approach shot lands on the green and then starts rolling back. He ends up bogeying. In that three-hole stretch, he showed a little bit of everything and ended up tying for third.

Spieth is never boring, whether it’s making a crazy shot from the bunker, or sending one far right or far left off the tee. And when he’s not berating himself for a poor shot, he’s engaging in animated conversation with his caddie.

Look, I had Spieth picked to win as one of my two choices in the PG Golf pool. I also had Justin Suh (Titleist Pro V1), whom I selected for the first time this season. When I found out my buddy Dave Hilson, whom I jokingly call The Human Anchor in the pool, picked Sun I knew Suh had no chance. He was actually the pick to win among many prognosticators.

I’m not sure when I’ll select Suh again. It was my second and last shot with Spieth.

When he was on his game several years ago, Spieth could have dusted off the competition. I’ll say this, whenever Spieth is in contention the fans embrace him. He’s turning 30 in July. Doesn’t he seem so much older?

SWIFTY AND GOLF: I never thought I’d have the opportunity to mention Taylor Swift’s name in this blog, but she’s using a glow-in-the-dark club in her concerts. I’m not sure why and which club it is. Might need someone to help identify it. And as an aside, how do the TV networks broadcasting tournaments know which club golfers are using? Do they have someone on the ground asking the caddie or are the announcers on the ground smart enough to figure it out?


Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko
Perry Lefko is an award-winning writer who has published nine books, three of them bestsellers. He has been involved in sports writing for more than 35 years and has interviewed many superstar athletes. He lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and enjoys watching golf and playing it.

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