NAPLES, Fla. – Leona Maguire and Lucas Glover came into the inaugural Grant Thornton somewhat under the radar, despite Glover winning twice this season and Maguire having another blockbuster Solheim Cup.
“We probably weren’t the star-studded pairing,” said Maguire, who relishes an underdog role.
And yet, here they are, one shot back of the lead in the highly-anticipated mixed team event, the first of its kind between the LPGA and PGA Tour since 1999, the last playing of the JCPenney Classic.
Maguire and Glover birdied the first 11 holes in the opening scramble format en route to a 15 under 57. They’re one back of Nelly Korda/Tony Finau and tied with Megan Khang/Denny McCarthy, who shot 27 on the back nine.
While some partnerships this week at Tiburon Golf Club have coaches in common, or in the case of Rose Zhang and Sahith Theegala, a trainer, Glover and Maguire met for the first time in person on the chipping green Tuesday at Tiburon.
“I think they just assigned us each other,” said Glover of how they connected, “and we met via text and went from there, played some Tuesday.”
And yes, Glover definitely Googled Maguire, learning that she has a twin sister in dental school. He was looking for any kind of nugget to break the ice. The 44-year-old Glover also asked some of the younger guys on the PGA Tour if they knew Maguire, including Justin Thomas last week at the Hero World Challenge.
Maguire also Googled, though she already knew that Glover had won a major (2009 U.S. Open) and probably should’ve been on this year’s U.S. Ryder Cup team.
“Maybe the Europeans were a little bit lucky Lucas wasn’t in Rome,” she said with a smile.
Denny McCarthy of the United States and Megan Khang of the United States talk on the second green during the first round of the Grant Thornton Invitational at Tiburon Golf Club on December 08, 2023 in Naples, Florida. (Photo by Douglas DeFelice/Getty Images)
Nelly Korda told her old QBE partner McCarthy that her good friend Khang is a pocket rocket. It was destined to be a fun week.
“We met each other Tuesday night and it was, you know, I feel like we’re already great friends,” said McCarthy.
Khang agreed, noting that she’d already told McCarthy’s mom that she’d raised a great son.
“I kind of forgot we were in a tournament,” said Khang of their level of fun.
The shot of the day, Khang noted, came on the par-4 13th when she drove it into a bunker about 35 yards short of the hole. McCarthy told her to it get up there close and he’d hole it.
And he did just that.
“Babe Ruth, I pointed and called my shot,” said McCarthy. “That was nice.”
The format changes to foursomes for Saturday’s round.