Thompson shoots 64 in Rd. 2, shares Kraft lead

By Associated PressApril 5, 2014, 12:55 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Lexi Thompson's play around the greens has held her back at times in her young LPGA career, lagging behind her powerful long game.

On Friday in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, her putting touch carried her to the top of the leaderboard in the first major championship of the year.

The 19-year-old, already a three-time winner on the tour, shot a bogey-free 8-under 64 at Mission Hills for a share of the lead with Se Ri Pak.

''I worked extremely hard in the offseason on my short game and just trying to get my game a lot more consistent,'' Thompson said.

She had only 25 putts after taking 35 in a first-round 73.

''I just had a little bit of speed issues yesterday,'' Thompson said. ''I didn't really commit to my lines and I came up short a lot. I just went out today and picked my line and sped up my tempo a little bit and went up to it and said, 'I'm going to knock it in.'''

After experimenting with a stance close to the ball to get her eyes more over the putting line, she's standing farther away in a more natural position.


Kraft Nabisco Championship: Articles, photos and videos


''Even as a little kid I stood far away from the ball and took the putter inside. I just went right back to that,'' Thompson said. ''I moved farther away and just take one look at the hole and just knock it in. Hopefully.''

Pak birdied the final hole for a 70 to match Thompson at 7-under 137. The 36-year-old South Korean player won the last of her five major titles in 2006 and has 25 LPGA victories.

''Everything has just been really solid,'' Pak said. ''I kept it fairways, greens, always the goal every hole. I had a lot of opportunities, but putting is not as good as yesterday. Still, just really smooth, solid round. I'm really happy about the way I finished.''

Michelle Wie was a stroke back after a 71.

''I'm really excited,'' Wie said. ''It's fun being near the top of the leaderboard. But try not to look forward too much. It's a long way 'til Sunday.''

Thompson birdied eight of the last 13 holes after opening with five pars.

''I was just trying to stay in the moment and focus on each shot, not really think about what I was shooting,'' Thompson said. ''I had the same confidence over every shot, just committing to my line and just being confident.''

She made a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the par-3 17th - her eighth hole - and two-putted for birdie after reaching the par-5 18th in two.

Thompson holed a breaking 30-foot birdie putt on the par-4 first, made a 4-footer on the par-4 third and ran in a 20-foot putt on the par-4 fourth after slashing out from under a tree in the left rough. She added an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-4 seventh and closed with a 10-footer on the par-5 ninth after hitting into the greenside bunker in two.

''This is my favorite tournament of the year,'' Thompson said. ''It's so beautiful, like really nice weather, and the fans are amazing. I'm really comfortable with the golf course. I get to hit a lot of drivers, so I just aim up the right side and hit my little draw.''

Wie opened with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th, and dropped a stroke on the par 13th after driving behind a tree in the right rough. She had a three-putt par on 18 - missing a 3-footer - after reaching the water-guarded green in two.

''It felt good to start off with a birdie,'' Wie said. ''After that, really just couldn't get anything going. ... But it felt good. Par is a good score out here.''

On the par-5 second, she made a 25-foot birdie putt after hitting a snap hook off the tee. Instead of going out of bounds, the ball hit a tree and ricocheted into the fairway.

''It was a pretty lucky shot,'' Wie said. ''I thought it was for sure OB.''

First-round leader Shanshan Feng bogeyed the final two holes for a 73 to drop into a tie for fourth with Cristie Kerr at 5 under. Kerr had a 70.

Thompson, Pak and Wie played in calm morning conditions, while the breeze picked up as Feng and Kerr finished their afternoon rounds on the overcast day.

''The wind kind of picked up, so it was actually tougher playing compared to yesterday,'' Feng said. ''I think I actually did pretty well. I did make two bogeys coming in, but I was still concentrating, and it just happens. Sometimes you make good strokes and they don't fall on this course. I'm still positive.''

Anna Nordqvist, the winner in Thailand in February and Carlsbad last week, was tied for sixth at 4 under after a 69. Stacy Lewis, the 2011 champion, had a 70 to join 16-year-old Lydia Ko and Hall of Famer Karrie Webb at 1 under. Ko and Webb, a two-time winner this year, also shot 70. Defending champion Inbee Park was even par after a 70.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Web.com Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Web.com Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Web.com Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Web.com Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

 

 

Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."


Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout


Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.