Mixed team returns to PGA Tour and LPGA Tour in December
PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players will compete for a $4 million purse on network television as the tournament long known as the Shark Shootout becomes a mixed team event this year with 16 teams.
The tours formally announced the change Wednesday, with Grant Thornton serving as the title sponsor.
The Associated Press first reported the mixed team event in December.
“By joining forces with the PGA Tour to host a mixed event where the top male and female golfers in the world compete alongside each other, we’re going to deliver a memorable and entertaining experience for all golf fans, showcasing our players’ incredible skills in a new context to a new audience,” LPGA Tour Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said.
“This is an important step forward for golf, women’s golf and the LPGA.”
The Grant Thornton Invitational will be Dec. 8-10 at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida. Still to be determined is the format for the 16 teams.
The event began in 1989 as the Shark Shootout, and in recent years it has added LPGA Tour players to the field. Other unofficial events, such as the CVS Charity Classic in Rhode Island, also included women.
But this will be the first fully mixed event since the final edition of the JC Penney Classic in 1999 won by John Daly and Laura Davies. Tiger Woods played one year in the JC Penney Classic with Kelli Kuehne.
Other tours in recent years have had official mixed competitions. At the ISPS Handa Australian Open, men and women competed on the same course at the same time for equal prize money in separate competition. Last year on the European tour, players competed in one competition from different sets of tees. Linn Grant of Sweden became the first woman to win a European tour title at the Scandinavian Mixed.
A mixed event had been on the PGA Tour’s radar for the last several years, and there was consideration to make the World Cup a mixed event until the COVID-19 pandemic halted momentum.
“As we look to capitalize on the growing interest in the game of golf, the addition of a mixed event to the calendar has been a priority,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Grant Thornton, which has a marketing partnership with the PGA Tour, has a roster of corporate ambassadors in golf that includes Rickie Fowler and Tony Finau, and Nelly and Jessica Korda. They likely would be among those who play the event.
“PGA Tour athletes playing alongside the best athletes from the LPGA Tour is going to be incredible for our fans,” Finau said. “They’ve been wanting something like this for a long time.”