Young American

By Randall MellJuly 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. WomenBETHLEHEM, Pa. ' If you watched Alexis Thompsons mother closely Friday, you could see her stroke the rosary beads around her left wrist as she watched her gifted daughter take this U.S. Womens Open by storm.
 
Other times, Judy Thompson would clutch the rosary around her neck.
 
By days end, you couldnt help wondering what cosmic forces her mother called into play.
 
Thompson is playing at a level few juniors will ever reach.
 
At 14 years and 5 months old, Thompson made the cut.
 
She came here for so much more than that, though.
Alexis Thompson
Alexis Thompson reacts to missing a putt on the 18th hole during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open. (Getty Images)
Thats what makes her story compelling.
 
I wasnt just looking to make the cut, said Thompson, who just completed the eighth grade in Coral Springs, Fla. I know I can contend if my games on out here.
 
She means it, believes it, wants it with every fiber of her 5-foot-9 frame.
 
Jim McLean, her swing coach, knows because she kept him on the driving range for nearly two hours after the first round. She was so frustrated with her ball striking she went through four buckets of balls, refusing to leave with darkness approaching. This was after she opened with a 71, good for a tie for sixth place at Saucon Valley Country Clubs Old Course, one of the most difficult U.S. Womens Open setups in years.
 
Jim McLean is one of the best teachers in the world, and Lexis out there pushing him, said Scott Thompson, her father and caddie. Shes so competitive and so hard on herself.
 
Halfway through the U.S. Womens Open, Thompson is tied for eighth.
 
At 2-over 144, shes just five shots behind the leader, Cristie Kerr.
 
Thompson isnt the youngest player to make the cut in the history of the U.S. Womens Open. In fact, she isnt the youngest to make the cut this year. Alison Lee of Los Angeles, whos 16 days younger than Thompson, also made the cut on Friday. Still, Thompsons turning heads here by getting in contention.
 
I think its pretty phenomenal to be 14 and in the top 10 of a major, said Lindsey Wright, a fifth-year LPGA pro tied with Thompson. Shes not a professional golfer. Its pretty awesome.
 
Thompson isnt a pro, but shes no rookie, either. She became the youngest player to qualify for a U.S. Womens Open when she was 12. This is her third U.S. Womens Open, her fourth major. Making the cut in a major is old hat. She made the cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April and tied for low amateur honors.
 
Thompsons resume is already impressive. Shes the No. 1 junior in the nation, the reigning U.S. Girls Junior champion, the youngest winner in the history of the PGA Junior Championship, the Doral Publix Junior and the Doherty Cup.
 
The fire that fuels her is visible.
 
After a double bogey Friday, Thompsons famed scowl emerged.
 
A bad shot looks like it physically hurts her.
 
Its part of what makes her great, McLean said. She didnt have her A game in the first round, but she scored well, shot 71 and is tied for sixth in the U.S. Womens Open, but shes unhappy when shes done. I dont think too many people would be upset with a 71 in a major.
 
McLean tried to cheer her up by reminding her where she stood on the leaderboard.
 
She didnt want to hear it, McLean said. She says, `I dont care, I didnt hit it good.
 
Scott has displayed a gifted touch as a golf dad. His oldest, Nicholas Thompson, is a PGA Tour pro. His second child, Curtis, 16, is an up-and-coming junior, too. Lexi is going where no juniors ever gone before. The fact that shes playing in her fourth major is remarkable. Lorena Ochoa, the worlds No. 1 player, was 21 when she played in her fourth major.
 
Scott admires his daughters passion for the game, but he does worry that she can push too much, expect too much and take the disappointments too hard. Scott sees the big picture.
 
I have to get that under control a little bit, Scott said.
 
Lexi knows, too.
 
We have our father-daughter moments, Lexi said. After I hit a bad shot, its not real pretty, but thats OK. We love each other.
 
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  • Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

    Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

    With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

    Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

    The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

    Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

    In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.

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    Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

    By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

    After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

     There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.



    It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

    It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

    “The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

    In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.



    Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

    Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

    “You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

    Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.



    Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

    If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

    For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

    Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.



    Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

    While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

    When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

    Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.



    After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

    The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

    That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

    The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

    While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.



    Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

    Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

    “We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

    The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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    Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

    John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

    That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

    Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

    Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

    By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

    Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

    Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.


    Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


    Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

    World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

    Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.