Lewis edges Thompson for Navistar title

By Associated PressSeptember 23, 2012, 9:29 pm

PRATTVILLE, Ala. – Stacy Lewis won the Navistar LPGA Classic on Sunday for her third LPGA Tour victory in five months, closing with a 3-under 69 to beat defending champion Lexi Thompson by two strokes.

Lewis parred the final two holes after a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 16 gave her the final cushion, and Thompson shot a 66 on The Senator course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Capitol Hill complex.

''Lexi was within one when we got to the 16th green and that's the only time all day I knew what was going on,'' Lewis said. ''Making birdie on that hole was huge. It gave me that cushion.''

Lewis also won in Mobile in late April, edging Thompson by a stroke in that tournament. The former Arkansas star also won the Shoprite LPGA Classic in June.

The 17-year-old Thompson rebounded from a third-round 74. She won the event last year at 16 to become the youngest champion in LPGA Tour history, a mark broken last month by 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko in the Canadian Women's Open.

Lewis finished at 18 under, one shot shy of the tournament record set by Australia's Katherine Hull in 2010. Lewis reclaimed the No. 2 spot in the world rankings and earned $195,000 – but still stayed at a budget, $75-a-night hotel in Prattville like usual.

Now, she and Yani Tseng are tied for the lead in victories this year.

''It's unbelievable,'' Lewis said. ''Winning never gets easier. It might have looked easy out there but it was hard. Every shot was stressful and every hole on this course with one stroke you can make a double easily. ''

Her previous best at the Navistar was a tie for sixth last year, but she still likes competing in this state.

''I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's the Bermuda grass,'' Lewis said. ''It's kind of what I grew up with in Texas. I love playing these kind of courses where you have to hit good shots. If you don't hit good shots you're not rewarded. I like that.''

Lewis had a three-putt for bogey on No. 2, but birdied No. 5 and made a 15-footer for another on the ninth hole.

''That was kind of the key putt for me,'' she said.

Thompson made quite a run with birdies on holes 10-12. She set up fairly short putts on all three, making a 6-footer, a 1-footer and a 10-footer.

Thompson missed birdie putts on three of the final four holes, making one on No. 17 to close to within a stroke. Then she saw Lewis move to two strokes ahead when Thompson was on the final hole before enduring another near-miss with a chance to turn up the pressure on the leader.

''I just got some weird putts that broke differently than I thought,'' Thompson said. ''Just total misreads. That happens. You get a few goofy putts but I was happy with the shots I hit into those holes.''

Both players are starting to feel Alabama is sweet home these days. Thompson kept up her daily ritual with breakfast at the Waffle House - skipping the high-carbohydrate specialty - and handled the coin toss at a high school football game.

She high-fived two youth after her birdie on No. 17 gave her new life but once again couldn't overtake Lewis in Alabama.

''She's played amazing this year,'' Thompson said. ''Everybody knows how great a player she is. Once I saw her go into the lead into today, I knew I would have to put up a good round.''

Thompson opened with a career-best 63, tying the tournament record. She came out with a mind-set to erase thoughts of the rough Saturday.

''Pretty much just forget totally about (Saturday) and come into today blank-minded and just free swing,'' she said of her approach. ''I have nothing to lose, just go for birdies. I bogeyed the first hole and I just went for it from there.''

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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LPGA lists April date for new LA event

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.