Lexi catches fire and makes another major move

By Randall MellAugust 4, 2017, 4:02 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Lexi Thompson isn’t looking in the rearview mirror.

Yes, she says, the crushing blow she experienced losing the ANA Inspiration last spring made her even more determined to win a major championship, but she doesn’t like going back there in her head, for motivation or for anything else.

“It’s definitely made me more determined than ever, but I've been such a determined person in general, any time I tee it up out there to win,” Thompson said.

After a sluggish start Friday, Thompson caught fire on the back nine at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, making five consecutive birdies to shoot 4-under-par 68. She grabbed a share of the second-round lead with England’s Georgia Hall (67) through the morning wave.

After Thompson’s round, a British reporter followed up a question about how determined the controversial ANA Inspiration loss made her with a question about whether winning this week would bring redemption.

“I'm not too sure,” Thompson said. “I don't really have any comments about that tournament anymore. I'm just going to focus on one shot at a time on this weekend and see where it goes.”

Thompson doesn’t like going back to Rancho Mirage in her memory, doesn’t like the feelings it brings back. She has made that clear, but the strength shown if she bounces back to claim a major this year might rank as the top story in women’s golf in 2017, as one of the top stories in all of golf. The story includes all the emotions Thompson has felt watching her mother, Judy, go through treatment for uterine cancer in late spring and early summer.

Thompson made a statement about her golf, winning the Kingsmill Championship in May, a little more than a month after that controversial four-shot penalty cost her the ANA Inspiration.

Thompson was asked at Kingsmill what conscious plan she put in place to bounce back from the ANA.

“I went straight home, and I was golfing the next day, if not the day after,” she said. “I was so determined just to keep on working on my game, because I knew that [the ANA] was the best golf I have ever played. I just couldn’t let it get to me.”

And she added one more thing about rebounding after the year’s first major.

“I’m so over it,” she said. “It’s unfortunate what happened, but it’s time to move on.”


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In four her last nine starts, Thompson has a victory and four second-place finishes.

There was also some bounce back in Friday’s round.

After a couple front-nine bogeys and making the turn in 38, Thompson caught fire. She ran off five consecutive birdies beginning at the 10th hole.

A personal record run of birdies, perhaps?

“I would say that's probably it,” Thompson said. “No others kind of come to mind.

“Once you get on that kind of streak, you really don't think about it. I was just hitting it pretty well there, so I was just aiming at pins and going for it and made a few good putts.”

Though she has put herself in contention almost every time she has teed it up the last three months, Thompson hasn’t closed the deal in all of them.
After taking a four-shot lead coming home in the final round at the Manulife Classic, Thompson bogeyed four of the final seven holes before losing to Ariya Jutanugarn in a playoff.

Thompson had the lead again going into the final round of the Meijer Classic in her very next start, but Brooke Henderson overtook her to win.

Overall, Thompson has converted just one of her last five 36-hole leads and one of her last six 54-hole leads.

Still, Thompson has been consistently putting up the best scores in the women’s game this year. Her 68.94 scoring average leads the LPGA. Her 68 Friday was her sixth consecutive round in the 60s.

Notably, Thompson has some extra inspiration coming from her family. Her older brother, Nicholas, shot 63 to grab the first-round lead at the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic.

Lexi grew up competing with older brothers Nicholas and Curtis in some spirited matches in Coral Springs, Fla., where they lived on the course at the TPC at Eagle Trace.

“Any time we can all get together at home in very competitive matches, it's pretty intense,” Thompson said.

Plus, Thompson is continuing to get some special help at Kingsbarns. Her caddie, Kevin McAlpine, is a former Scottish Amateur champion. He caddied for four summers at Kingsbarns.

“It's great to have that local knowledge,” Thompson said.

And the edge that gives.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.