57 is the new 67: Record-low scores dominate Round 1 of Grant Thornton Invitational

Grant Thornton Invitational - Round One
Grant Thornton Invitational - Round One / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

Naples, FL - 59 watch is normally something that golf fans will take quick notice of with a high amount of intrigue. On Friday for the first round of the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational, shooting a 59 was good for T8. Shooting a 58 was good for T4. Hell, even shooting an absurd 57, something that's never been done in an individual stroke play event, was only good for T2.

The favorites coming into the week at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Nelly Korda and Tony Finau, were the last team to finish on Friday but they did so with a bang. Korda stuck an approach shot close and Finau finished it off with a birdie to card an absurd 16-under 56 for the outright lead to break up a logjam at 15-under.

All told, of the 16 teams that took to the Gold Course for the tournament for a scramble format in the first round, 11 of them shot a 60 (-12) or better for the day while all but one team, Cheyenne Knight and Tom Hoge (66), carded a 64 or better.

But it was Korda and Finau who edged ahead of the Leona Maguire and Lucas Glover team and the Megan Khang and Denny McCarthy team on the final hole of the day. They'll take that lead going into the weekend looking to continue to assert themselves as the favorites.

Of course, scores were always going to be extremely low when it comes to the scramble format, being able to take the best ball after each shot and each player having a go from that spot. Saturday could be the great separator with the foursomes/alternate shot format that traditionally has proved far more challenging in events like the Zurich Classic, Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and other team competitions.

Grant Thornton Invitational Round 1 Leaderboard

1. Nelly Korda / Tony Finau (-16)
T2. Leona Maguire / Lucas Glover (-15)
T2. Megan Khang / Denny McCarthy (-15)
T4. Rose Zhang / Sahith Theegala (-14)
T4. Ruoning Yin / Nick Taylor (-14)
T4. Lydia Ko / Jason Day (-14)
T4. Charley Hull / Justin Rose (-14)
T8. Allisen Corpuz / Cameron Champ (-13)
T8. Brooke Henderson / Corey Conners (-13)
T10. Madelene Sagstrom / Ludvig Åberg (-12)
T10. Lexi Thompson / Rickie Fowler (-12)
12. Lilia Vu / Joel Dahmen (-11)
13. Celine Boutier / Harris English (-9)
T14. Mel Reid / Russell Henley (-8)
T14. Andrea Lee / Billy Horschel (-8)
16. Cheyenne Knight / Tom Hoge (-6)

Alternate shot will undoubtedly shake up the leaderboard on Saturday as it stands in stark contrast to the scramble that started this tournament out. Does that mean that a team like Knight/Hoge could climb back into the mix? Potentially, though that would take some herculean effort, but it's not out of the question either.

Now, let's dive into some sporadic observations and notes from the day on the ground at the Grant Thornton Invitational.

Grant Thornton Invitational: Observations and notes from Round 1

Ludvig Åberg is already the best driver of the golf ball on the planet. While he wasn't perfect on Friday, the 24-year-old Swede had one of the biggest crowds of the day behind him while playing with the then-leaders of Maguire and Glover. The sound of his contact with the driver combined with the effortless power he generates with his swing create a truly singular viewing experience that can be appreciated on TV, but truly leaves jaws dropped in person.

Leona Maguire can putt her ass off, man. It wasn't just Irish luck as she consistently capitalized on a combination of her own great approach shots and those from her partner, Lucas Glover. His elite and veteran ball-striking paired with her short game created a dangerous force in the scramble format. I, however, do have some concerns about how that momentum will carry into foursomes.

If you don't love Joel Dahmen, go take a lap. The man carries a unique and intensely likable charisma, one that was best characterized by his reaction to his partner, Lilia Vu, sinking a nasty chip-in for eagle.

Vu-Tang Clan ain't nuthin' to f*** with. And neither is that celly.

Finally, Rose Zhang truly is an absolute superstar at just 20 years old. There is an ease to her game that we've long seen many of the greats display, wherein it appears that even she doesn't realize just how picturesque her swing is and how dominant she could be in the world of golf. But you could see that in the way that her partner, Sahith Theegala played, clearly looking freed up and loose in a way that ultimately seemed to benefit his own play, which resulted in the T4 finish after the first round for the duo.

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