Thompson beats Ko at her own game in Indy

By Randall MellSeptember 9, 2017, 10:28 pm

Lexi Thompson overpowered Brickyard Crossing Golf Club all week, but that isn’t why she pulled away from Lydia Ko and everyone else Saturday in a wire-to-wire victory at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.

Thompson beat Ko at her own game.

Thompson outplayed her on and around the greens.

Thompson’s devotion to improving her putting and short game in the offseason has taken her to another level, something she showed making her ninth LPGA title look easy before she hopped in a Corvette Stingray and took a victory lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The final four holes at Brickyard Crossing are inside the speedway’s 2.5 mile oval track.

Thompson, who got the car up to 122 mph, was all in on the racing traditions, kissing the bricks after hoisting her trophy, and then swigging from a bottle of milk before dousing herself with what was left in the bottle.

“The first woman to ever kiss the bricks,” LPGA media official Al Lunsford told Thompson. “It was a huge honor, definitely a memory I’ll never forget,” Thompson said.

Thompson lapped the field, so to speak, winning comfortably on the Pete Dye designed course. She relished having a big lead after finishing runner-up five times this year, three times in playoff losses.

“It was great for me, just to show how much my hard work has paid off,” Thompson said. “That’s always the best feeling.”

Tied with Ko at day’s start, Thompson closed with a 4-under-par 68 for a four-shot victory, her second LPGA title this season.

Full-field scores from the Indy Women in Tech

Thompson hit just eight fairways and 11 greens in regulation on Saturday, her untidiest ball-striking effort all week, but she showed off upgraded scrambling skills that make her look poised to challenge So Yeon Ryu for Rolex world No. 1. Thompson will move up a spot in this week’s ranking, back to No. 2.

Yes, Thompson slammed one tee shot after another past Ko, averaging 291 yards per drive for the week, 59 yards more than Ko, but Thompson won with her new-found touch.

Thompson needed just 23 putts Saturday, eight fewer than Ko.

This more well-rounded game makes Thompson look like the player to beat at next week’s Evian Championship, the year’s final major championship.

While Ko was disappointed in the end, she was encouraged giving herself her best chance to win in what has been a frustrating year.

“I just wasn't putting as well as I did the last few days, and that makes a huge difference,” Ko said. “When you're in the final round, final group, you kind of want those putts to drop and unfortunately that wasn't happening for me.”

Ko was looking to win her 15th LPGA title, her first in more than a year, but Thompson distanced herself in the middle of the round.

Tied with Ko stepping to the ninth tee, Thompson made back-to-back birdies to pull two shots ahead. She moved four ahead when Ko stumbled to a double bogey at the 11th.

“Lexi played great, especially down the stretch,” Ko said.

After hitting her drive in the middle of the fairway, Ko found her ball sitting down in a divot. With a 9-iron in hand, she thumped her approach hard, only to watch her ball hit the front of the green and then spin back, into the rough. She chopped a chip from there, racing it past the hole and through the green, where she chipped again, this time to 5 feet but missed the putt.

Thompson walked off the green with a four-shot lead and wasn’t challenged the rest of the way, even after hooking her tee shot at the 16th into the water, where she scrambled to make a nice bogey.

While it wasn’t the final round Ko wanted, closing with a 72, she recorded a second-place finish, a promising effort in what was becoming a disappointing summer. She arrived in Indianapolis off two missed cuts in her last three starts.

“I had a great time being in this position,” Ko said.

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.

DP World Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship

With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."