Back-nine 29 helps Kirk to Thornberry lead

By Associated PressJuly 8, 2017, 2:03 pm

ONEIDA, Wis. - Katherine Kirk shot a career-best 9-under 63 on Friday to take a three-stroke lead in the weather-delayed second round of the inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.

Kirk, a 35-year-old Australian who has two victories in 14 years on the LPGA Tour, played the back nine in 7-under 29 at Thornberry Creek, the Oneida Nation-owned resort near Green Bay. She eagled the par-5 13th and hit a hybrid to 4 feet on the 196-yard, par-3 17th for her final birdie of the day to finish at 13-under through two rounds.

''My husband was up here Monday and Tuesday with me, and he said to me last night, 'Someone could easily shoot 8 under around here,''' Kirk said. ''I'm just happy it was me, or 9 (under), I guess.''

Kirk finished her round before a 3 1/2-hour delay for lightning in the area.

''Perfect conditions, really,'' she said. ''We only had a little bit of breeze, but the greens for us are softer than usual, so we're able to basically throw darts at it, and I think that's why you're seeing so many low numbers out there.''

Jaye Marie Green birdied eight of her final 12 holes to shoot 66 and was three shots back. Sandra Gal of Germany was also 10 under through 13 holes when play was suspended because of darkness.


Full-field scores from the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic


Green, 23, who played college golf at Florida and has never won on the LPGA Tour, had her brother, Matt, on the bag.

''Everything was clicking, and then my brother is cool to caddie for me,'' Green said. ''He helps keep me calm when I don't want to kill him.''

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand was four shots back after a second-round 68. Her younger sister, second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn, withdrew with a shoulder injury on Friday, one day after struggling to a 78.

South African Ashleigh Buhai (66), South Korean Ilhee Lee (68) and Pavarisa Yoktuan of Thailand (68) were also four shots back. Christina Kim, Karine Icher, Amelia Lewis and Madeleine Sheils were another shot behind, along with Cristie Kerr, who had five holes left to play.

''I'm trying to tighten up my putting a little bit because this is a putting match out here,'' Lewis said. ''Whoever can make the putts is going to win this thing.''

Top-ranked So Yeon Ryu, No. 3 Lexi Thompson and No. 4 Lydia Ko are among those taking the week off before the U.S. Women's Open next week at Trump International in New Jersey.

In Gee Chun, the highest-ranked player remaining in the field at No. 5, was 5 under through 12 holes. Eighth-ranked Brooke Henderson was also 5 under after a 68. Henderson finished runner-up to Danielle Kang in last week's KPMG Women's PGA Championship.

First-round co-leader Laura Gonzalez Escallon made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the par-4 18th and was in danger of missing the cut.

Thompson wins Race, loses tournament after short miss

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 8:52 pm

The drama went down to the very last hole in the LPGA's final event of 2017. Here's how things ended up at the CME Group Tour Championship, where a surprising miss from Lexi Thompson opened the door for Ariya Jutanugarn to win in dramatic fashion:

Leaderboard: Ariya Jutanugarn (-15), Lexi Thompson (-14), Jessica Korda (-14), Pernilla Lindberg (-13), Eun-Hee Ji (-13)

What it means: There were scenarios aplenty entering the final round, with nearly every season-long accolade still hanging in the balance. Thompson appeared set to take them all as she sized up a 2-foot par putt on the final hole - a stroke that looked like it would take her to world No. 1 for the first time. Instead, the putt barely touched the hole and allowed Jutanugarn to rally to victory with birdies on the closing two holes. Thompson still took home $1 million for winning the season-long Race to the CME Globe, as it was a reverse scenario from last year when Jutanugarn won the $1 million but not the final tournament.

Round of the day: Sei Young Kim made the day's biggest charge, turning in a 6-under 66 to close the week in a share of 11th at 10 under. Kim made eight birdies during the final round, including five over her first eight holes en route to her lowest round of the week while erasing a third-round 75.

Best of the rest: Jutanugarn seemed like an afterthought as the tournament was winding down, but she kept her hopes alive with an 18-foot birdie on No. 17 and then capitalized on Thompson's mistake with a clutch birdie on the difficult final hole. It capped off a final-round 67 for the Thai who now ends what has been a tumultuous season with a smile on her face.

Biggest disappointment: Thompson faced heartbreak after the penalty-shrouded ANA Inspiration, and she again must handle a setback after essentially missing a tap-in with everything on the line. Thompson can enjoy a $1 million consolation prize along with the Vare Trophy, but a tournament win would have clinched Player of the Year honors as well as her first-ever trip to world No. 1. Instead, she now has the entire off-season to think about how things went awry from close range.

Shot of the day: There were only three birdies on No. 18 during the final round before Jutanugarn laced one down the fairway and hit a deft approach to 15 feet. The subsequent putt found the target and gave her win No. 7 on her young LPGA career.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.