Thompson co-leads Texas through 54 holes

By Associated PressMay 2, 2015, 9:29 pm

IRVING, Texas - Long-hitting Lexi Thompson was going for the green in two with her approach on the 18th hole. She got there with a fortunate ricochet, and grabbed a share of the lead in the LPGA's North Texas Shootout.

Thompson hit a screamer well left of the green on the closing par 5 in the third round Saturday. The ball struck the front facing of a grandstand and ricocheted onto the green, skimming just over the top of a bunker.

"I wouldn't say I was trying to nail that grandstand," Thompson said with a chuckle after the long two-putt birdie to close a round of 3-under 68.

Thompson shared the lead at 9-under 204 with 2013 North Texas winner Inbee Park, who finished a round of 69 with a more conventional birdie at No. 18. Park hit her third-shot approach inside a foot.

"It's always good momentum going into tomorrow when you finish with a birdie, and obviously all day today I hit good shots, but inside 10 feet it wasn't going in," Park said. "I had to hit it closer."

Brooke Henderson, the 17-year-old Canadian who had the second-round lead, shot an even-par 71 to drop into a tie for third at 8 under with 40-year-old Karrie Webb (64) and Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford (67).

"Playing rounds like that is fun. I would have told you on Thursday that I wasn't a big fan of golf at the time," Webb said, referring to her opening 2-over 73. "Now two days later, everything feels good."

Webb was the youngest player on the LPGA Tour when as a 21-year-old rookie in 1996 she won four times and was the first player to win $1 million in a season. Now the Australian with 41 career wins is competing with players even younger than that with a focus on being part of the Olympics when golf returns next year in Brazil.

"I think that's really keeping me out here, keeping me working hard," she said. "That's something at the start of my career I never envisioned, being part of the Olympics."

The 20-year-old Thompson, who turned pro five years ago, was about 220 yards out at the 518-yard 18th when she crushed a 3-wood.

Without the assist from the stands, she might have been set up for only her second bogey of the day - or even worse. She burst out laughing in the fairway after watching what happened with her ball.

"It was kind of pushing my hybrid to carry over on the right," Thompson said. "I was just trying to cut a 3-wood, and it was really solid. I'm just happy it hit that grandstand and not somebody else out there."

Cristie Kerr, who missed a short birdie try on her final hole, shot 69 and was tied for sixth with Hee Young Park (70) at 7 under.

Defending champion Stacy Lewis had a 66 to move into a tie for eighth place at 5 under, after starting the weekend even and tied for 47th. Lewis and 54-year-old Juli Inkster (73) were in a group of eight players five strokes off the lead.

"It's awesome, everybody knows Karrie has so much game still. It's ridiculous how talented she is," Thompson said. "Juli Inkster is in the mix, too, which is awesome to see. Fans love that. It's all ages, and it's great to see in golf."

Lydia Ko, the 18-year-old from New Zealand who is the No. 1 player in the world and won in California last week, shot a 70 to get even for the week. She had to make three birdies over her last eight holes Friday just to avoid missing the cut for the first time in her 51 career starts.

Just like Friday, Ko was right on the number for the secondary cut, among the 51 players advancing to the final round at even or better. When the initial cut was made at 1 over after the second round, 70 of the original 144-player field made it.

"Really, I think over the last two days, I'm realizing that one shot, one little putt, can make a huge difference," said Ko, who will keep her No. 1 ranking after this week. "Luckily I'm playing four days, and after the first day, you know, I didn't know if I was going to play through."

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Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

Memo to the golf gods:

If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.


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Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

"I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

"I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x