Lexi battle back pain, leads in Meijer title defense

By Associated PressJune 17, 2016, 11:37 pm

BELMONT, Mich. – Defending champion Lexi Thompson fought through back pain Friday to take the second-round lead in the Meijer LPGA Classic.

''It just came on last weekend and it was really bad today,'' Thompson said. ''I'm not really one to complain about pain because I just fight through it, but yeah, it's hurting. I'm going to go and get a rubdown and see if it goes away.''

The 21-year-old Thompson shot a 4-under 67, rebounding from bogeys on 15 and 16 with birdies on the final two holes to reach 10-under 132 at Blythefield.

''It was definitely important to come back from the two bogeys,'' Thompson said. ''I just hit a few errant drives there toward the end and made bogeys, but I played 17 and 18 well.''

Canada's Alena Sharp bogeyed her final hole to drop into a tie for second at 9 under with South Korean players In Gee Chun, So Yeon Ryu and Q Baek. They all shot 67.

''We just finished major tournament last week and the golf course was quite narrow and a really, really tough golf course,'' Ryu said about the KPMG Women's PGA last week outside Seattle. ''We really had to deal with all the trees. After last week, this golf course feels more wide open, I feel more comfortable, felt like be able to play more aggressive.''


Meijer LPGA Classic: Full-field scores


Thompson won the Honda LPGA Thailand in February for her seventh LPGA title. The long-hitting Florida player, ranked fourth in the world, also won a Japan LPGA event last month. The back pain could be a major concern heading into the busy summer schedule and golf's return to the Olympics.

''I just try not to pay attention to it,'' Thompson said. ''It was hurting just getting into posture for my golf shot, so it is what it is. Took a few ibuprofens and waited for it to kick in. I didn't really want to pay attention to how bad it was hurting because then it brings more attention to it and it becomes a mind game. I just tried not to focus on it and I just tried to stick to what I did yesterday.''

The 35-year-old Sharp is winless on the LPGA, with six top-10 finishes in 11 seasons.

''I'm going to just keep playing my game, hit fairways and go at pins when I can,'' Sharp said. ''My putting has been really good the last two tournaments, so I'm kind of relying on it.''

Amy Yang (67) was 8 under along with Sei Young Kim (69), Minjee Lee (67), Haru Nomura (67), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (68), Amelia Lewis (68) and Carlota Ciganda (69).

Top-ranked Lydia Ko and No. 2 Brooke Henderson, coming off a playoff victory over Ko in the KPMG Women's PGA, were together at 7 under after matching rounds of 68.

Ko birdied three of her last five holes. The 19-year-old New Zealander won the Kia Classic and major ANA Inspiration in consecutive weeks this year in Southern California. She has 12 LPGA victories.

''I'm happy with the way I played,'' Ko said. ''I was pretty consistent and I just got to keep playing like this. My ball striking wasn't as good as yesterday, so hopefully it can get better progressively on the weekend.''

Henderson played her final nine holes in 4 under. The 18-year-old Canadian, up to No. 2 in the world, has 10 top-10 finishes this season. She also won last year in Portland, Oregon.

''It was much warmer out today, a beautiful day,'' Henderson said. ''I started out not as well as I would have liked, 1 over for the front nine, but I made a lot of birdies on the back and go 4 under, so overall it was a pretty steady day. I know I have some work to do on the weekend, but I'm looking forward to it.''

Ariya Jutanugarn, third last week after winning her previous three starts, was 5 under after a 69. Older sister Moriya also was 5 under after a 68.

Laura Davies, the 52-year-old World Golf Hall of Fame member who shot a 65 on Thursday to share the lead, had a 73 to drop to 4 under. She won the last of her 20 LPGA titles in 2001.

Michelle Wie made the cut by a stroke at 1 under, following her opening 71 with a 70. She's winless since the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and hasn't had a top-10 finish in 37 events.

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Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


"I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.