MEL REID ENJOYING FIRST EVENT AS AN #LPGAMOM AT GRANT THORNTON INVITATIONAL

While this week at the Grant Thornton Invitational is special for everyone in the 32-player field, it’s even more so for LPGA Tour winner Mel Reid as it’s the first time she has gotten to tee it up in a professional golf event as a mother.

Reid and her wife Carly announced that they were expecting their first child on May 2 of this year, and the pair welcomed Kai William Reid just over a month ago on November 8. Carly and Kai along with many of Carly’s family members are in the gallery this week at Tiburón Golf Club watching Reid compete alongside four-time PGA Tour winner Russell Henley, and even though the 1-month-old won’t remember seeing Mel play for the first time, it’s a memory that his mothers will cherish for a lifetime.

“It’s tiring as hell. Not gonna lie,” laughed Reid. “The little fella, he sleeps pretty good, but it’s still obviously quite tiring. This isn’t a normal LPGA event, but you don’t wanna embarrass yourself, so I’ve been trying to prep a little bit, and it’s been pretty demanding with him as well. So, certainly an adjustment but it’s awesome. He’s not gonna remember it but me and Carly will, and she’s got all her family here as well so it’s a pretty special week.”

No matter the circumstances, it’s challenging to adjust to life with a newborn, let alone trying to play a professional sport while you’re at it. While Kai sleeps around five hours at a time in the evenings, Reid admits that she’s a bit more tired than she’s used to being week in and week out on the LPGA Tour. But she wouldn’t trade the experience she’s had over the last month of being a parent for anything, enjoying every second she’s had with both her wife and her son throughout the entire process.

“I’ve got a bit more responsibility now. I can’t just be who I used to be. But, honestly, it’s awesome. I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said the 2020 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer champion. “It’s funny when you first hold your child, it’s an unreal moment. Carly is doing great as well. She just took to it very naturally and she looks great and I’m proud of the way she’s handled everything.

“It just goes to show what kind of partnership that we are that we’re managing to keep the little fella pretty happy after a month so I think that we’ve given ourselves a pat on the back. But it’s incredible. It’s an awesome feeling and just really proud to be his mum.”

Through two rounds in Naples, Fla., Reid and Henley are currently sitting alone in 13th at 10-under, carding an 8-under 64 in the scramble format on Friday and a 2-under 70 in the foursomes format on Saturday. The pair are quite a bit behind the rest of the pack with a modified four-ball format on deck for tomorrow’s final round, but Reid recognizes that as much as they want to perform well this week, the Grant Thornton Invitational is about so much more than the numbers on the scorecard.

“I think with all the noise that’s going on in golf right now, it’s exactly what the golf world needs. The two tours uniting and just playing golf again. Me and the girls have been speaking, we’ve grown up with a lot of these guys. I mean, I’ve never met Russell before, but I know Rickie and all of them. It’s just nice to be able to play the same tournament and just (have) a bit of a more relaxed, fun environment.

“I’ve always been trying to fight for a tournament like this. I think there should be, especially now, more tournaments like this, where you unite and just play golf. I think that everybody who has been part of this has really enjoyed playing. We’ve enjoyed playing with the PGA Tour guys. It’s fun for us to watch them play and hopefully, it’s fun for them to watch us play. I knew this was going to be good. It’s just been a great week, and I think it’s awesome that Grant Thornton has done this.”

Lexi Thompson and Rickie Fowler raced up the leaderboard on Saturday at the Grant Thornton Invitational, carding a 4-under 68 in the foursomes format that was highlighted by a Thompson ace on the par-3 16th hole at Tiburón Golf Club.

The pair got off to a sluggish start, bogeying two of their first three holes of the day to drop back to 2-over. Thompson and Fowler then made five straight pars on holes four through eight before picking up their first birdie of the day on the par-3 9th hole to get back to 1-over with nine holes to play.

They found their footing on the back nine, parring 10 and recording three consecutive birdies on holes 11, 12 and 13 to move to 2-under overall. But Thompson and Fowler dropped another shot with a bogey on the par-5 14th, quickly erasing that mistake with a birdie on No. 15. The highlight of the week so far came on the next hole when Thompson aced the 170-yard, par-3, 16th hole with her 7 iron, dunking her tee shot to record the 11th hole-in-one of her life.

“I had 158 (to the) hole, a little breeze in. I mean, not much, it was pretty dead towards the end of the round. Ended up taking my 7-iron, which is my like 162 to 165 club, and backed up two club lengths from the tee marker and just tried to hit like a three-quarter hold,” said Thompson. “It was just dead at it. I was just hoping it was the right number and it ended up being a perfect number.

“(It ranks) definitely up there, probably one of my highest because I’ve only had about four in competition with a good amount of crowds, so there were a lot of people around that tee box. It was nice to high-five everybody and hear all the cheers. I can’t wait to watch the video of it later. Hitting a golf shot or making a putt and committing to it and seeing the shot at hand and really pulling it off, it’s always a great feeling.”

Thompson’s ace propelled her team to a 4-under 68, a round that moved her and Fowler from a tie for 10th to a tie for fourth at 16-under, four shots back of leaders Lydia Ko and Jason Day. While they were pleased to ultimately finish with a 68 considering their poor start to the round, Thompson and Fowler know that bogeys won’t fly tomorrow if they want to make up that four-stroke deficit and put themselves in contention to win, especially on the par 5s at Tiburón.

“We thought (the strategy) through a little bit coming into today, but we made two bogeys and ended up shooting 4-under, so we’ll definitely take it with alternate shot,” said Thompson. “We both played solid golf. He hit some amazing iron shots and made some great putts, especially starting around 9. We knew that we had to put ourselves in the fairway for each other and give ourselves looks for alternate shot. Pars are good and birdies are great, so you just have to give us the opportunities.”

While the pair didn’t really have any rules for each other when it came to their alternate-shot strategy, Fowler told his teammate to play her own game as much as possible and not to stress too much about putting him in specific positions when it was her turn to hit. And that thought process seemed to work for the duo as they recorded the second-lowest round of the day on Saturday.

“I told Lexi out on the first, like don’t worry about me, just play how you normally would,” said Fowler of his thinking when it comes to foursomes. “You try and just keep each other comfortable. Obviously, you don’t want to put your partner in a funky situation, but it’s bound to happen in alternate shot. It’s one of my favorites just because it’s one shot at a time literally. You don’t hit the one before or after.

“It’s a grind because you’re trying to put her in the best position and she’s trying to do the same for me. But I hit a couple of putts by that she had to clean up for me. Just the way it goes.”

With the third and final format – a modified four-ball – on deck on Sunday for the final round at the Grant Thornton Invitational, Thompson and Fowler don’t feel like they’ll have too much trouble playing each other’s golf balls after seeing how things worked in foursomes on Saturday. While Thompson plays the Bridgestone TOUR B RX ball and Fowler competes with the TP5x pix from Taylormade, the pair feel like the balls are a lot alike, something that may not be the case for all of the 16 two-person teams in the field.

“We haven’t played each other’s ball too much, but they’re pretty similar, so going into the rounds we weren’t worried about that factor, which is nice,” said Thompson. “I just try to get them in the fairway. He’s hitting his irons amazing, and he rolled some really great putts out there.”

Couple that fact with the momentum the pair generated on Saturday at Tiburón Golf Club, and Thompson and Fowler could threaten tomorrow coming down the stretch as they work to win the inaugural edition of the Grant Thornton Invitational.

By TTU