In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Lydia Ko...

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Lydia Ko of New Zealand reacts after the final round of the the Blue Bay LPGA golf tournament in Lingshui, southern China's Hainan province on Sunday, March 10, 2024. Lydia Ko, who held the lead in China with Tardy and Schmelzel after three rounds, finished with a 71, six strokes behind the winner. Credit: AP/Yang Guanyu

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — The Grant Thornton Invitational began last year to strong reviews from the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players who took part in the first mixed-team event since 1999.

Next on the horizon are the Olympics.

The format already is set for the Summer Olympics at Le Golf National outside Paris. Just like in Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro, there will be 72-hole competitions for the men and the women. But Olympic officials are close to finalizing a team competition for the 2028 Games at Riviera in Los Angeles.

One person involved in the talks said an announcement could come as early as the Masters. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details are not completed.

Among the details are how many teams would play and the format for the competition. The current plan for 2028 is for the men to start on Wednesday (instead of Thursday) and finish on Saturday. The team competition could take place on Sunday and Monday. The women would have a practice round on Tuesday and start their competition on Wednesday.

The International Olympic Committee tends to frown on awarding two medals from one competition, such as combining scores from individuals into a team medal. That's why golf officials are proposing a separate event.

Still to be determined is how many countries will be eligible to compete. One option currently being discussed is 36 holes of fourballs to decide the team medalists.

Jason Day, of Australia, hits his tee shot on the...

Jason Day, of Australia, hits his tee shot on the second hole during the third round of The Players Championship golf tournament Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Credit: AP/Lynne Sladky

The IOC would do well to consider singles. To have a team format (foursomes or fourballs) on Sunday, followed by singles scores from each male and female players could produce 54-hole scores.

Such is the format used at the Summer Youth Olympics, where golf was played first in 2014. At the last such competition, Atthaya Thitikul was part of the Thai team that won the gold over Akshay Bhatia and Lucy Li of the United States.

A mixed team event would require only two more days for the players. It's unlikely any of the top players would be playing the following week at a regular PGA Tour event.

Lydia Ko and Jason Day won the inaugural Grant Thornton Invitational. Ko already has a silver and a bronze in her two Olympic appearances.

From left to right, Team Champions Paul Casey, Anirban Lahiri,...

From left to right, Team Champions Paul Casey, Anirban Lahiri, Bryson Dechambeau and Charles Howel III, of Crushers GC, pose with the Event Team Champion Trophy after the final round of LIV Golf Jeddah at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia. Credit: AP/Charles Laberge

TK AND THE MAD SCIENTIST

Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat already has made a name for himself in golf. The 17-year-old from Thailand won on the Asian Tour two years ago, making him the youngest player to win on a tour recognized by the Official World Golf Ranking.

Chantananuwat, who tied for 21st in the International Series Macau, might have a soul mate in Bryson DeChambeau.

“I talked to Bryson recently and he said that if I wanted to study things that will help in golf, I should study Newtonian mechanics, particle physics and maybe dabble in engineering and anatomy and economics,” Chantananuwat said. “My areas of interest are physics and economics and so I’ll study something along those lines.

“Or I could study something easy.”

Chantananuwat said his priority is golf, though he has loved science since he was 6 because “it explains how everything works.”

“As an athlete the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn all you can about your sport,” he said. “For Bryson, that approach has worked out.”

WINNING AFTERMATH

Grayson Murray won the Sony Open in his first start of the year, a victory that sends him to the Masters for the first time. Now he's trying to get his game back in order for it.

Murray followed that Sony Open title by missing three of his next four cuts. The exception was a tie for 66th at Pebble Beach, an 80-man field that had no cut and was shortened to 54 holes because of weather.

“I just put too much pressure on myself,” Murray said. “It was my first big win in a while, knowing what it gets me. I felt like I was trying to live up to expectations, and I struggled for a good month.”

Murray's win not only got him into the Masters but the remaining seven $20 million signature events. He tied for 25th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and tied for 42nd at The Players Championship after closing with a 64.

“It gives me momentum into two weeks off,” he said. “I talked with a few people who grounded me. They told me to ‘Go be you.’ I did well at Bay Hill. I played good (Sunday). I'm just trying to find that inner Grayson.”

This will be his Masters debut. Murray, who grew up in North Carolina, said he recalls going to a practice round at Augusta National when he was a kid but remembered few other details except for the weather.

"I remember watching Justin Rose hit one on 10 and he walked in because it was so cold,” Murray said.

ROAD TO THE MASTERS

The Masters effectively sets the schedule for the PGA Tour, held every year the first full week of April. The dates fall to April 11-14 this year — the first time since 2019 — meaning an extra tournament on the road to Augusta National.

Top players at Bay Hill and The Players Championship are having to make some adjustments. Scottie Scheffler will be at the Houston Open next week. Justin Thomas is at the Valspar Championship this week. Rory McIlroy played three in a row through The Players, and his plan is to play the Valero Texas Open a week before the Masters.

It also leads to a change for two-time major champion Collin Morikawa. He did not want three weeks off leading to the Masters.

“I've normally taken a few weeks off before Augusta,” Morikawa said. “I ended up adding Valero, just to add a tournament. Every year I've played Augusta, I haven't played the week before. When I look back at the two (majors) I've won, I played the week before.

“So I'll have two weeks after this (The Players) and get one good prep going into Augusta.”

DIVOTS

Bernhard Langer says he is making progress in his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon and he hopes to be out of his walking boot within a couple of weeks. He still hopes to return for the Insperity Invitational on the PGA Tour Champions the first week of May. “If not then, soon after,” he said. ... Scottie Scheffler is the third player since August to win in back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour, joining Viktor Hovland and Lucas Glover. ... Rory McIlroy had 26 birdies at The Players Championship. Because of five shots into the water, he finished 11 shots behind Scottie Scheffler. Sam Ryder had 27 birdies to set the tournament record. He finished 10 shots out of the lead. ... The competition for the top spot in PGA Tour University is coming down to Michael Thorbjornsen of Stanford and Christo Lamprecht of Georgia Tech. The winners gets a full PGA Tour card for the rest of the year after the NCAAs. Last year's winner was Ludvig Aberg.

STAT OF THE WEEK

The last five winners of The Players Championship were all among the top 10 in the world.

FINAL WORD

“My dad told me a long time ago to commit, execute and accept. I’m swallowing a heavy dose of acceptance right now. I tried to commit, I executed poorly on some shots and here I am accepting it.” — Xander Schauffele after finishing one shot behind at The Players Championship.

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