Run of the 'mill: Confident Lexi in control

By Randall MellMay 20, 2017, 12:37 am

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Lexi Thompson looks determined to exit the Kingsmill Championship as spectacularly as she entered it.

She also looks determined to show any wounds she may have sustained in her controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration last month are completely healed.

Thompson has been a commanding presence at Kingsmill since she jumped out of an airplane Wednesday strapped to a Navy SEAL and skydived into the first fairway before her pro-am tee time.

With another 6-under-par 65 Friday, Thompson is in position to make a run at winning wire to wire. At 12 under overall, she’s three shots ahead of Gerina Piller (67) and four ahead of Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko (67) and Candie Kung (66).

“It’s just a good golf course for me,” said Thompson, who is second on tour in driving distance this year. “I get to hit a lot of drivers, actually, a lot of 3-woods out here as well. I just love the shape of the golf course.”

Thompson was front and center in a firestorm of debate after she was assessed a four-shot penalty on the back nine of the final round of the ANA Inspiration, where she appeared to be on her way to running away with her second major championship title.

Thompson, 22, might have been playing the best golf of her life in Rancho Mirage before she was retroactively penalized two shots for incorrectly marking her ball in the third round and another two shots for signing an incorrect scorecard. She still almost prevailed, losing in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

After a three-week break, Thompson made her return to golf at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, where she showed just how deeply the controversy had wounded her, breaking down in tears in her pretournament news conference.

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

She tied for 17th at the Shootout.

There were questions about how the ANA loss would affect Thompson, how she would rebound, whether she could keep her confidence and momentum going. She is giving some pretty strong answers. She finished second in a Japan LPGA major two weeks ago, and she is looking to top that here in Virginia.

“She's a great ball-striker and hits it far,” Piller said. “This course definitely suits the long ball hitters, especially now. The greens are firming up and getting a little quicker. To have a shorter iron in is definitely an advantage.”

Thompson has pretty much been all smiles since she unstrapped her jumpsuit after parachuting into Kingsmill Resort Wednesday to promote her new charity benefitting families of wounded and fallen special ops forces.

“This is one of my favorite tournaments to always come back to,” Thompson said. “Not only the golf course, but the venue in general.”

With sharp ball striking and a resurgent putting stroke, Thompson looks like the player to beat. Thompson hit 17 greens in regulation on Thursday. She hit all but one fairway Friday and missed just two greens.

In the offseason, Thompson committed herself to working on her biggest weakness, her putting, and it’s paying dividends. She is taking advantage of a lot of birdie opportunities.

“My game is in a good spot,” Thompson said.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.