Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Jason Day of Australia now are the team to beat.
Ko and Day carded a six-under-par 66 in the foursomes (alternate shot) format to take a two-stroke lead over first-round leaders Nelly Korda and Tony Finau, and Leona Maguire of Ireland and Lucas Glover heading to the final round of the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational on the Gold Course at Tiburon Golf Club in Tiburon, Fla.
The 16 LPGA-PGA Tour teams will play a new format called modified four-ball to decide the tournament winners on Sunday. In that format, both players on each team will tee off before switching balls for their second shots and playing that ball until holing out. The lower score of the two partners will count as the team score.
Ko and Day, who met for the first time at the beginning of this week, made five birdies in a span of seven holes on the back nine through No. 17 and recorded a 36-hole score of 20-under-par 124.
“I mean, she flushed it the last two days,” said Day, who has won 13 times on the PGA Tour including the 2015 PGA Championship. “I’m just trying to do the same. I think we’ve got a really good shot at like getting this over the hill tomorrow.
“She said she didn’t hit it that great on Tuesday, but a practice round is a practice round and … I just knew, because she’s been in pressure situations for so long and been under the pump for so long, I knew once the first tee shot was hit, she would go back into the whole mindset of playing competitive golf again and getting it done.
“Yeah, it’s fun, but I still want to win and I’m sure Lydia wants to win, too. We could definitely use a win like this or even a good finish to propel us into next season.”
Said Ko, who has 17 LPGA Tour victories including two majors: “I feel like I don’t need to take the putter out of my bag because he’s been so clutch. I was trying to keep the ball in play for him because he’s just been all around so consistent.
“Every drive, with mine I go, oh, I carry it like 235 yards, and I apologized in advance, but am I going to hit the fairway or not? And his drive is going like 300 yards, and OK, it’s going down the fairway. It’s just an easy place to be at as a partner.”
Korda and Finau, who led after an opening 56 in the scramble format, made four birdies on the back nine in a 70, while Maguire and Glover also had four birdies coming home in a 69.
Lexi Thompson made a hole in one on the 155-yard 16th hole as she and Rickie Fowler of Murrieta posted a 68 and are four shots behind in a tie for fourth with Canadians Brooke Henderson and Corey Conners, who birdied four of the last 10 holes for a 69; Ruoning Yin of China and Nick Taylor of Canada, who birdied two of the last three holes for a 70, and Megan Khang and Denny McCarthy, who made three straight birdies on the back nine in a 71.
“It’s definitely up there, probably one of my highest moments because I’ve only had about four (holes in one) in competition with crowds, with a good amount of crowds, so there were a lot of people around that tee box,” Thompson said afterward. “
“It was nice to high-five everybody and hear all the cheers. I can’t wait to watch the video of it later on. It’s definitely a good feeling. I mean, hitting a golf shot or making a putt and just committing to it and seeing the shot at hand and really just pulling it off, it’s always a great feeling.”
Charley Hull and Justin Rose, both of England, are six back in solo eighth after making one birdie and one bogey in a 72, while Celine Boutier of France and Harris English had three birdies on the back nine in a 69 and are eight down in a tie for ninth with Madelene Sagstrom and Ludvig Aberg, both of Sweden, who made four birdies on the back nine in a 72, and rookie Rose Zhang of Irvine and Stanford and Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine, who made two double bogeys and a bogey on the back nine while struggling to a 74.
Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley and UCLA, and teammate Joel Dahmen made a birdie on the last hole to cap a 72 and are 12th, followed by Mel Reid of England and Russell Henley, who birdied four of their first seven holes but closed with a double-bogey 6 to shoot 70, while Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach and Stanford and Russell Henley are 14th after a late birdie to cap a 71.
Cheyenne Knight and Tom Hoge had two birdies and a bogey in a 71 and are tied for 15th with Allisen Corpuz of Hawaii and USC and teammate Cameron Champ of Sacramento, who stumbled to a 78.
This is the first mixed-team tournament involving LPGA and PGA Tour players since Laura Davies of England and John Daly captured the final edition of the JC Penney Classic in 1999 at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.
For complete results and tee times for the final round, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard