Thompson back in action at LPGA ShopRite

By Associated PressMay 4, 2011, 3:59 am

LPGA Tour _newNEWARK, N.J. – Days after missing a chance to become the youngest winner in LPGA history, Alexis Thompson sounded like your ordinary teenager.

She giggled between questions, and she called having a share of the lead entering the final round of the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala., a great experience.

And like most 16-year-olds, she was well past shooting a waterlogged, final-round 6-over-par 78 that dropped her from the top of the leaderboard into a tie for 19th in a span of four, frustrating hours.

That’s golf. One day your swing is flawless and then next, well …

Thompson was in Galloway Township, N.J., Tuesday for media day of the ShopRite LPGA Classic, where she received a sponsor’s exemption for next month’s 54-hole event on the Bay Course at Seaview, just outside of Atlantic City.

Thompson made her professional debut as a 15-year-old at this tournament last year and missed the cut by four strokes.

“There was a lot going on that week, from going from the Curtis Cup straight to here,” said Thompson, who says she prefers to be called ‘Lexi.’ “The excitement of being a pro, it was huge. This time, it will be a lot more calm.”

This past weekend was anything but calm for Thompson. She shot a 5-under 67 in the third round Saturday to take a share of the Avnet lead with Song-Hee Kim. Along the way, she put herself on the doorstep of LPGA history.

Paula Creamer is the youngest winner of a multi-round LPGA event, winning the 2005 Sybase Classic at 18 years, 9 months, 17 days.

Thompson would have shattered that mark had she won Sunday, being 16 years, 2 months, 21 days. However, her round started and ended with bogeys and her ball found the water on two holes on the back nine in a disastrous round.

“It was just an off day, off golf, I guess,” Thompson said in a telephone interview. “That’s what happened. I really don’t know what happened to my game. Instead of taking a lot of stuff out of it, I took it as one bad day, and everybody has it.”

Thompson said she wouldn’t trade the experience. Having a share of the lead was great and playing with Kim in the final group was a thrill. Things just didn’t go the way she wanted in the tournament that was won by Maria Hjorth.

“I was a little frustrated,” Thompson said. “I am not going to say that I had good dreams (the night after). But it was all right. I have to keep reminding myself, it’s just a game and people have those days.”

Thompson is too young to play full-time on the LPGA tour, so her playing opportunities are limited. She can get six sponsor’s exemptions annually and she can qualify for both the U.S. Women’s Open and the British Women’s Open. The Florida native can also try to qualify for tournaments in Monday qualifiers.

Thompson had petitioned the LPGA for 12 exemptions this year, but commissioner Mike Whan denied it.

Since turning professional in June, Thompson has earned $351,187 with her best finish being a tie for second in the Evian Masters in France, an event she calls the highlight of her career.

Thompson made a nice par-saver on the final hole to retain a share of the lead, but Jiyai Shin of South Korea birdied it to take the title.

Thompson has no regrets about her decision to turn pro, even if it means playing in fewer tournaments than she would like.

“Everything is a thrill,” said the home-schooled teenager who uses her father, Scott, to caddie. “I am not traveling as much as I used to and I am playing one or two times a month. I used to play a bunch as an amateur, so when I go to every event I am really fired up and excited to play.”

Looking forward, she says she needs to improve her consistency.

“I have improved a lot in my putting and overall my attitude on the course,” she said. “It is definitely getting better. I’m really close, if I keep working on it.”

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Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.

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"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel to U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."

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Koepka looking to make hay on Horrible Horseshoe

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:26 pm

The Horrible Horseshoe - Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial Country Club - annually ranks as one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour.

Consider Brooks Koepka undeterred.

Last year's U.S. Open champ has played the stretch 2 over this week but knows that if he's going to have any chance at catching Justin Rose on Sunday, he's going to need take advantage of the par-5 first and then find a way to pick up shots on the Horseshoe.

"I feel like just need to get off to a good start on this golf course," Koepka said after a third-round 67 Saturday. "If you can get 2 or 3 under through six holes, I think you'll be right there."

Koepka will start the final round four behind Rose, as he looks to win for the first time since his maiden major victory last year.

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Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

The big-hitter missed nearly four months this year with a wrist injury and is progressing quickly in his comeback despite dislocating his wrist on two different occasions over the last two months.

Koepka missed the cut with partner Marc Turnesa at the Zurich Classic in his competitive return before following up with a tie for 42nd at the Wells Fargo Championship and a tie for 11th at The Players Championship.

Now, thanks to a closing birdie Sunday, he finds himself playing alongside Rose in the final group on Sunday.

"I feel like my game is coming around," he said. "[At Zurich], I was five days into touching clubs. I am finally finding a rhythm and feel like I'm getting really close. ...

"Just want to get off to a good start [tomorrow]. That's really all I am trying to do. You put together a good solid round tomorrow, you never know what can happen. The important thing is we were just trying to get in that final group. I thought the putt on 18 was kind of big to get in that final group and play with Rosey."

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Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take a four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up one to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made 17 birdies and just three bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentinian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 7-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year.

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th.

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.