Obstacles Be Damned Semple Thompson Prevails
No one player and event are linked more closely than Carol Semple Thompson and the Curtis Cup. This was the 12th time Carol had played in the match, extending her record.
A few nay-sayers had complained the 53-year-old did not belong on the United States team. They griped that her many friends on the USGA Womens Committee had gone too far in granting Semple Thompson a spot on the squad. But like the grumpy trolls in the stories of Grimm and Andersen, those few critics were sent crawling back into their holes.
On this sultry Sunday afternoon, Carol Semple Thompson, the reigning Senior Womens Amateur Champion, made the putt that clinched the Cup for Team USA.
The Yanks had built what seemed to be an insurmountable lead over Great Britain and Ireland heading to the final stanza ' the six Sunday singles matches. The score was 8-4. All the Americans needed to do to maintain the cup they had won two years ago was win one match or halve two.
But GB&I put on a furious rally. With all six matches through at least nine holes, the Brits and Irish led four and were all square in the other two. Who would step up for the Americans?
In the second match out, Semple Thompson was playing 21-year-old Vikki Laing, considered the second best player for GB&I. The Scot was out-driving Carol by some 50 yards. Through seven holes, Vikki was 3-up.
But the golfing goddesses, the fairies, would not let this story end poorly for Carol. This Curtis Cup match was played at the Fox Chapel Golf Club in Western Pennsylvania, just 30 minutes from Semple Thompsons home. This is one of my favorite courses in the world, said the six-time national champion.
A crowd of over 500 fans, many of them family and friends of Carol, followed her every move. With her match, and her teams fortune in jeopardy, Semple Thompson put on quite a charge. She won No. 8 with a par and then birdied two of the next three holes to go from 3-down to 1-up.
She played the next five holes even par to carry that one-up lead to the 18th. When the two arrived at the final green, GB&I had already won two matches. USA led in just one other. If Carol could just hang on to win her match, the Americans would win the most prestigious international amateur event in womens golf.
Laing had hit her approach just 10 feet from the hole. Semple Thompson faced an uphill, right-to-left, 25-footer from the fringe.
I was just trying to get it close, she would say. With four of her teammates and their captain kneeling nearby, Semple Thompson produced a perfect roll. As the ball slowly made its way toward the hole, her young teammates rose to their feet. And when the ball, improbably, impossibly, dropped into the hole for birdie, Team USA had secured the Curtis Cup.
Her teammates screamed, yelled and ran to their hero. The crowd erupted into a roar normally heard only at Steelers games in these parts. For her part, Semple Thompson looked almost dazed. Like everyone else who had witnessed it, she was shocked by what she had just accomplished. I cant believe I made THE putt.
She smiled and laughed and hugged her comrades in clubs.
Carol Semple Thompson is at least 31 years older than all of her Curtis Cup teammates, older than some of their mothers. She looked so comfortable, so perfect, among them. She belonged.
Trolls and ogres be damned.
Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8
Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.
Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.
Walking in the par putt at No. 2. pic.twitter.com/zuSGZmVL3z— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2018
A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.
A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.
Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.
Tiger gets it to 9-under.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 18, 2018
He's 4 shots back. pic.twitter.com/cAZtM14SlJ
Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.
Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational
Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.
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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course
ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.
McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.
“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”
This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.
A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.
McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.
“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”
As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.
“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”
Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders
PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.
She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.
Her confidence is high.
“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”
Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.
Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.
“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”
Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.
“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”
Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.
“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”
That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.