Thompson, Miyazato tied at ANA; Ko, Pettersen 1 back

By Associated PressApril 2, 2016, 1:35 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Lexi Thompson powered her way to the top of the ANA Inspiration leaderboard Friday, using length and strength to counter the thick rough.

''If you're going to hit it crooked out here, you might as well hit it far and crooked, so you have a shorter shot in,'' Thompson said. ''But it's very thick. I had some really nasty lies out there.''

Trying to win the major championship for the second time in three years, Thompson birdied the final hole for a 4-under 68 and a share of the second-round lead with Ai Miyazato at 7 under.

Miyazato, tied for the first-round lead with Azahara Munoz, followed her opening 67 with a 70. The 30-year-old Japanese player also finished with a birdie, hitting to 2 feet on the par-5 ninth.

Short off the tee and in stature at 5-foot-2, Miyazato is far more conservative than Thompson at tree-lined Mission Hills.

''I don't really want to be too aggressive on this golf course,'' Miyazato said. ''You need to be really patient and you need to be smart for the course management.''

Top-ranked Lydia Ko (68) was a stroke back along with Suzann Pettersen (67), In Gee Chun (69), Lizette Salas (67), Sung Hyun Park (67) and Lee-Anne Pace (70). Michelle Wie (69) topped the group at 5 under, and 2011 winner Stacy Lewis (68) was another shot behind.

The Kia Classic winner Sunday in Carlsbad, the 18-year-old Ko fought allergies that affected her vision.

''I'm currently one-eye blind,'' Ko said. ''I don't have very good eyesight, especially my left side is the worst, so it was really irritating me. Hopefully, it will be OK by tomorrow.''


ANA Inspiration: Articles, photos and videos


Thompson finished her morning round with a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to reach 7 under. She had five birdies - three in a row on Nos. 12-14 - and one bogey.

''I definitely could have shot a few shots lower out there, but I hit some bad shots out there, too, that I got away with it,'' Thompson said. ''I recovered really well. That's what you have to do in majors. If you hit a bad shot, you have to pick yourself up and go to the next one.''

That was evident after she drove into the right-side trees on the narrow par-4 16th. She escaped with a mighty hooked pitching wedge under the trees, leaving a 15-foot putt that she nearly holed for birdie.

The winner in Thailand in February for her seventh tour title, she's using a new big-headed putter and has scrapped her eyes-closed routine and narrowed her stance.

''It's a dramatic change,'' Thompson said. ''Just changing to the Cure putter and a little bit different stance over the putts has given me a lot of confidence. I'm rolling it a lot better, and having my caddie, Benji (Thompson, no relation), line me up has helped me out a lot, too.''

Miyazato rebounded from a bogey on the par-3 eighth with the birdie on No. 9 to set up a Saturday pairing with the long-hitting Thompson.

''I played with her many times and I really like to play with her,'' Miyazato said. ''It just doesn't matter this golf course if you hit long or not. You need to be really staying with your game.''

Miyazato was third in the Kia Classic for her first top-10 finish since April 2013. Ranked No. 1 in the world for 11 weeks in 2010, the nine-time LPGA winner is 90th now after climbing 67 spots Monday.

Chun is returning from a back injury that sidelined her for a month. The U.S. Women's Open champion was hurt when she was struck by a hard-case suitcase that rival player Ha Na Jang's father dropped down an escalator at the Singapore airport.

''During the time I had injury treatments back in Korea, I was so depressed and I lost my appetite and motivation,'' Chun said. ''Once I got here, I began to get my motivation back.''

Jang was 5 under after a 70. She bogeyed her final hole after a poor drive.''It was a really big miss off the tee,'' said Jang, a two-time winner this year.

Wie holed out from 132 yards for eagle on the par-4 12th, her third hole of the day.

''That was fun,'' Wie said. ''I definitely felt like I could have made a lot more. I just felt like a blind person out there. I hit a lot of good putts. I just misread them slightly.''

DIVOTS: Defending champion Brittany Lincicome, paired with Thompson, was 3 under after a 69. Last year, Lincicome eagled the final hole of regulation and beat Lewis on the third hole of a playoff. Lincicome also won the event in 2009. ... Munoz had a 78 to drop into a tie for 48th at 1 over. ... Amateurs Hannah O'Sullivan and Albane Valenzuela each shot 73 to make the cut. O'Sullivan, the U.S. Women's Amateur champion, was 1 over, and Valenzuela 2 over. The 18-year-old O'Sullivan is a high school senior in Chandler, Arizona. Valenzuela, also 18, is from Switzerland.

Getty Images

Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

Getty Images

Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

Getty Images

Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.

Getty Images

Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

“It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

“That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”