Thompson takes ANA lead; Ko one back

By Associated PressApril 3, 2016, 2:27 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Lexi Thompson rallied Saturday to put herself in position for a run at another victory leap into Poppie's Pond. For most of the warm afternoon at Mission Hills, it looked as if her new big-headed putter might end up in the drink - or in a twisted heap in the nearest garbage can.

Overcoming her struggles on the greens, Thompson made two late birdies and curled in a 15-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the ANA Inspiration.

''It was definitely a bit frustrating,'' Thompson said. ''I just tried to stay positive. I did get frustrated. I'm not going to lie. But I just tried to remind myself the putts I did make the last two days, and remember those strokes and getting that feeling, and basically telling myself to just put a more confident stroke on it, put some more speed on it.''

Her putting problems started on the par-3 fifth when she missed a 4-foot birdie try. She three-putted for bogeys on the par-3 eighth and par-4 10th, missing from 5 feet on eight and 6 feet in 10.

''I was hitting it well, just couldn't get the putts to drop,'' Thompson said.

Trying to win the major championship for the second time in three years, the 21-year-old American shot a 3-under 69 to reach 10 under. A day after making a 30-foot birdie putt on 18, she hit a 207-yard, 5-iron approach that settled pin-high to the left to set up the left-to-right breaking putt.

''To knock it in on 18 is always the most amazing feeling here,'' Thompson said. ''To finish like that definitely turns around my confidence. I feel really good going into tomorrow. ... I do know what it takes to win on this golf course. I mean, I absolutely love this golf course.''


ANA Inspiration: Articles, photos and videos


The long-hitting Thompson took the flat stick out of the equation with short irons to 2 feet for birdies on the par-4 15th and 16th. She nearly had a third straight birdie, but couldn't get a 6-footer to fall on the par-3 17th.

''I was just putting a little timid and then hit a few good shots coming in, so I had a few short birdie putts,'' said Thompson, the winner in Thailand in February for her seventh tour title.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko, In Gee Chun and Ariya Jutanugarn were tied for second, and fifteen players were within four strokes of each at the top of the leaderboard.

Ko shot a 69, a day after fighting allergies that led to vision problems. On Friday, she repeatedly changed her contact lenses, irritating her left eye to the point that she said she was ''one-eye blind.''

''I was a little worried about my eye, but it was great today,'' Ko said.

The 18-year-old New Zealander won the final major last season, the Evian Championship in September in France, and is coming off her 11th LPGA title last week in Carlsbad.

''I felt like I struck the ball much better today and I hit a few more fairways, so the less time you're spending in the rough, the better,'' Ko said. ''I feel like today I was able to control my shots and kind of have an idea where the ball was going to go.''

Chun got up and down for birdie on 18 for her third straight 69. The 21-year-old South Korean player is returning from a back injury that sidelined her for a month. She was hurt when she was struck by a hard-case suitcase that rival player Ha Na Jang's father dropped down an escalator at the Singapore airport.

''Tomorrow, I'm just going to focus on my game again,'' Chun said. ''The only thing I can control is my mindset, my mental game, myself.''

Jutanugarn had a 67. The 20-year-old Thai player is winless in the LPGA. At age 17 in the 2013 LPGA Thailand, she closed with a triple bogey to blow a two-stroke lead.

''Whatever it is, I'm going to take it and have fun and enjoy tomorrow,'' Jutanugarn said.

Miyazato and Charley Hull were 8 under. Miyazato birdied the 18th for a 71, and Hull birdied the final four holes for a 69.

''I was kind of in the zone,'' Hull said.

Michelle Wie topped the group at 7 under after a bogey-free 70.

Wie is winless since the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and hasn't had a top-10 finish in 30 events since the last tournament that year. In her last two starts, she missed the cut in Phoenix and tied for 60th in Carlsbad.

''You kind of have to grind it out when you're not hitting the ball as well,'' Wie said. ''But I'm very proud of what I did today. I hung in there, had some good birdies. Hopefully, I'll give myself more opportunities tomorrow and take advantage of them.''

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

Getty Images

Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

Getty Images

Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.