Penalty continues to hang over emotional Lexi

By Randall MellApril 27, 2017, 12:15 am

IRVING, Texas – Lexi Thompson bowed her head and wiped away the tears she couldn’t choke back in the middle of her news conference Wednesday at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout.

Almost a month after a controversial rules infraction cost her a chance to win the ANA Inspiration, she still looked emotionally wracked.

“It was kind of a nightmare,” Thompson said.

One she can’t quite shake with the rules snafu dragging into yet another week - with the USGA and R&A releasing a new rules decision Tuesday that players are calling “The Lexi Rule,” a new standard for limiting use of video evidence.

Thompson’s emotional state Wednesday was revealing, showing how deeply the controversy wounded her, even as she returns to play Thursday at Las Colinas Country Club.

Thompson’s statements were just as revealing, showing how much she and her team have struggled to accept the ruling.

“It’s been an interesting three weeks,” Thompson said. “It’s been really hard on me. A little less sleep than usual, but I’ve just been spending a lot of time with my family and friends and working out a bunch, and just taking time for myself, just trying to regroup myself and get back to practicing a lot.”

Wednesday’s highly-anticipated news conference must have grown a little more nerve-wracking for Thompson, as she waited in the wings almost 15 minutes for a tech team to fix an audio problem before she could talk to the assembled media. Her parents, Scott and Judy, watched in the back, with her agent Bobby Kreusler, standing just off stage. The room was full, but only with about a half-dozen reporters, as LPGA and tournament staff made up much of the audience.

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Thompson, 22, has been in a sort of self-imposed exile since the ANA setback, where she looked as if she might run away with her second major championship title before getting blindsided in the final round. She got hit that Sunday with a two-shot penalty for improperly returning her ball to its mark on the 17th green in Saturday’s third round. Because a TV viewer alerted the LPGA to the violation on Sunday, Thompson was also socked with a two-shot penalty for signing an incorrect scorecard.

Enhanced video showed Thompson returning her ball to different spot on her ball mark, closer to the hole.

Thompson did not answer directly Wednesday when asked if she thought she committed an infraction.

“It was not my intention at all,” she said.

Thompson said she marked the 15-inch putt because her father told her not to rush short putts in majors. She also said she twisted the ball slightly before returning it to its mark, because she uses a dot on the ball as a focal point for making her stroke.

Thompson was asked a second time to explain how video came to show her returning her ball to a different spot on her mark, a violation that many of  her fellow players agree warranted the first two-shot penalty.

“I have seen the video, and I can see where they’re coming from with it,” Thompson said. “It might have been, I guess, me rotating the ball, but like I said, I’ve always played by the Rules of Golf. Growing up with two older brothers, they were always on me for playing by the Rules of Golf.

“There’s no need for me to improve anything. Those greens were absolutely perfect, and the whole week there was nothing in my line to be moving it from anything. So, I have no reason behind it. I did not mean it at all.”

What Thompson didn’t say Wednesday speaks volumes about the still unresolved nature of this entire thing within her team’s ranks. She didn’t acknowledge she committed an infraction.

Late last week, Kreusler was pushing the LPGA to divulge the name of the TV viewer, demanding a “true and transparent” accounting of the details of the viewer’s intervention.

“The field and all of the LPGA players are deserving of knowing exactly how the email happened, who was responsible, so we can make sure it was an honest, fair and equitable playing field for all,” Kreusler said. “Unfortunately, I don’t have that feeling right now and there are an awful lot of people out there who feel exactly the same way.”

While Thompson prepares to move ahead Thursday at the Volunteers of America Shootout, this continuing pressure from the Thompson camp makes it appear they aren’t ready yet to move on.

In fact, Kreusler gives the exact opposite impression, the feeling that the ANA’s finish remains unresolved, with the hope a more satisfying end game is out there.

Fellow players aren't sure that does Thompson any good.

“For Lexi’s sake, we need to move on,” two-time major champion Stacy Lewis said. “I know she’s had some trouble dealing with everything. If she can handle this the right way, it can completely change the way people look at her. It can be better than winning a major, if she handles it the right way, and if her team handles it the right way. So, for her sake I hope they can do that.”

Hall of Famer Karrie Webb said she admired the way Thompson fought back from the penalty that Sunday at the ANA, making birdie on three of the final five holes to force a playoff.

“In the heat of the moment, I thought it was quite incredible how Lexi handled herself,” Webb said. “I think that’s going to go a long way for her as a person, on and off the course, and how people view her as a player and a person.”

But . . .

“To move on from the ANA, I think her team just needs to let it go,” Webb said. “She can’t move on from it if everyone around her is talking about it still.

“Having an investigation, what do you get out of that, besides prolonging it all? It still doesn’t mean she will win the ANA championship. It doesn’t give her that, so what is the point?”

The last question Thompson fielded was yet another about marking her ball, if she’ll change anything about her practice going forward.

“I’m just going to continue to mark my ball,” Thompson said.

There was a certain defiance in the answer that hung over her exit.

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Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.