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Grant Thornton preview: PGA TOUR, LPGA join forces for team event in Florida

Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images Sport / Getty

It's exhibition season in the North American golf world, with a unique event taking place this weekend in Florida that features stars from both the PGA and LPGA TOUR.

The Grant Thornton Invitational team tournament will feature 16 different two-person duos with one member of the PGA TOUR and one from the LPGA. The previous version of this event, the QBE Shootout, featured a couple of co-ed teams in the field, but the new format is a full blend of men and women.

Expect excellent scoring in Rounds 1 and 3 with a two-person scramble and modified four-ball format being used. Saturday's action, meanwhile, will present the toughest challenge with an alternate shot format in play.

When: Dec. 8-10
Where: Tiburon Golf Club, Naples, Florida

How to watch

Date Time Channel
Dec. 8 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. GOLF
Dec. 9 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. GOLF
3:00 - 5:00 p.m. NBC
Dec. 10 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. GOLF
2:00 - 4:00 p.m. NBC

Format/Tee times

Friday: Scramble
Saturday: Foursomes (Alternate shot)
Sunday: Modified four-ball. Both players tee off, then switch balls for second shot and play the hole out with the lowest score being used for the hole.

5 teams to watch

Rickie Fowler/Lexi Thompson

Julio Aguilar / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The blockbuster team from a brand perspective is undoubtedly the combo of Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson. The two stars have been the face of Cobra and Puma Golf over the past decade and will likely be the most followed group at the event. Thompson nearly made the cut at the PGA TOUR's event in Las Vegas earlier this fall, so don't expect her to feel out of place this week.

Sahith Theegala/Rose Zhang

An electrifying young talent on the men's tour partners with the biggest phenom women's golf has seen in a long time to form an explosive duo. Sahith Theegala and Rose Zhang train at the same gym in California, and Theegala actually pitched the idea of teaming together while Zhang was still an amateur earlier in the year.

"She's just such a beast," Theegala told Gabrielle Herzig of Sports Illustrated. "It's so impressive how she shuts out all the noise and just plays her game. She goes about her business. She's a straight baller. She seems like such a hard worker, too."

Corey Conners/Brooke Henderson

The duo of Corey Conners and Brooke Henderson will certainly be watched closely by fans in Canada, as the duo holds the country's highest-ranked male golfer and most accomplished player ever. Both players are elite ball-strikers that can put up some absurd numbers if they get hot with the putter.

Tony Finau/Nelly Korda

The most athletic duo in the event is certainly the combo of Tony Finau and Nelly Korda. Finau was a standout high school basketball player, while Korda comes from a family of tennis royalty and is joined on the LPGA by her sister Jessica. They are also the betting favorites in the event, with Finau the top-ranked men's player in the field and Korda sitting at No. 5 in the Rolex Rankings.

Ludvig Aberg/Madelene Sagstrom

It's easy to see the Swedish connection in the team of Ludvig Aberg and Madelene Sagstrom. But the ties run deeper than that. Aberg's caddie, Jack Clarke, is actually Sagstrom's fiancee. That will give the couple the opportunity to be on the same team and in the same group. Both the Swedes have plenty of firepower, and Aberg should thrive in the type of format that requires plenty of birdies. The rookie actually led the TOUR this past season in birdie average with almost five per round.

Betting odds

Nelly Korda/Tony Finau +600
Madelene Sagstrom/Ludvig Aberg +700
Rose Zhang/Sahith Theegala +900
Charley Hull/Justin Rose +1,000
Lexi Thompson/Rickie Fowler +1,000
Brooke Henderson/Corey Conners +1,100
Celine Boutier/Harris English +1,100
Lydia Ko/Jason Day +1,300
Leona Maguire/Lucas Glover +1,300
Ruoning Yin/Nick Taylor +1,300
Meghan Khang/Denny McCarthy +1,400
Lilia Vu/Joel Dahmen +1,600
Cheyenne Knight/Tom Hoge +2,000
Mel Reid/Russell Henley +2,000
Allisen Copuz/Cameron Champ +2,200
Allison Lee/Billy Horschel +2,200

Odds via theScore Bet

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