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Lexi looking to build on success of 2017

By Randall MellJanuary 24, 2018, 9:21 pm


Lexi Thompson nearly put together a spectacular year in 2017.

With two victories and six second-place finishes, she beat out So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park in voting to win the Golf Writers Association of America’s Female Player of the Year Award.

Despite some heart-wrenching setbacks last year, she was a force on tour, maybe just a few breaks away from dominating.

Can she top that success this season?

Is this the year she ascends to Rolex world No. 1?

Stacy Lewis, the last American to hold the top world ranking, believes Thompson’s best is yet to come.

“I can’t wait to see what Lexi does,” Lewis said. “I think she is going to have a really good year. I think it was pretty amazing what she went through last year, putting everything together between what happened at the ANA, family stuff, and then that putt at the CME. It’s crazy what she went through, but I think it’s going to make her a better player and a stronger person.

“If she can almost win the Rolex Player of the Year Award with all that stuff happening, I think we are all in trouble.”

Thompson was so close to sweeping all the major awards last season. She walked away with the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and the $1 million Race to the CME Globe prize.

If not for that controversial four-shot penalty on Sunday at the ANA Inspiration early in the year, she might have won the Rolex Annika Major Award. If not for that missed 2-foot putt at the end of the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, she might also have claimed the Rolex Player of the Year Award and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Thompson will tee it up Thursday at the season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic looking to get off to another strong start. She was tied for the lead after 72 holes on Paradise Island before ultimately losing in a playoff. She will play the first two rounds this year with Shanshan Feng, the current Rolex world No. 1.

Thompson says she is finding fuel looking back at all the positives last year, not the disappointments.

“Last year was my best year yet, just overall, how consistent I was, and just how I struck the ball and the putts that I made under pressure,” Thompson said. “There were a lot of positives to take from it.

“It was a very memorable year. So, you can't look at the negatives with anything. You've just got to take the positives from every situation and go on.”

There’s a challenge to getting off to the same strong start this year. Before heading to the Bahamas last year, Thompson devoted herself to improving her putting and short game in the offseason. It paid huge dividends. This offseason, she had to shut her golf down for a month, to rest her ailing right hand.

Thompson said she still got in enough work to get ready for this week.

“It's not really my wrist, it's kind of like in my thumb and in this webbing area, so it's hard to tape and everything,” Thompson said. “I was just taping my wrist to take some strain off it, but it's fine. I can still play golf. It's just a little tender on some shots, mainly in my woods.”

Thompson said getting away from golf in December was important, but . . .

“It about killed me,” she said. “I was like, `What do I do with myself?’ I still worked out, and I had to be careful with my hand. I just needed to shut down because I worked extremely hard last year.”

Thompson was asked Wednesday what her goals are for 2018.

“I go into every tournament wanting to win,” she said. “That’s my all time goal every tournament I tee it up, but, obviously, being International Crown year, I want to be there representing my country. That's always my top goal for any team event. Winning a major would be nice.”


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Next up for Koepka: Buddies and a bachelor party

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Coming off a successful title defense at the U.S. Open, Brooks Koepka arrived at the Travelers Championship in need of a nap. It appears he won’t be getting one anytime soon.

Koepka normally wakes up by 6 a.m. without using an alarm, but without much down time since his victory at Shinnecock Hills he slept in until 8:20 a.m. Sunday morning, prior to his 10:40 a.m. tee time. Any impact to his pre-round routine appeared negligible, as Koepka fired a 5-under 65 that included seven birdies over his first 13 holes.

“I felt like today was kind of the first day I got everything back,” Koepka said. “I was definitely running behind, but it was nice to catch up on some sleep.”

Koepka became the first U.S. Open winner to play the week after since Justin Rose in 2013, and he finished the Travelers at 9 under with four straight sub-par rounds. While he’s got some free time in the coming days, it won’t exactly be restful.

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“We’ve got 11 guys that I’m pretty close with, so I’m looking forward to hanging out with them in Boston for a few days and then [getting] back down to West Palm for a night, and then we’re off to my best friend’s bachelor party,” Koepka said. “I was really hoping to get some rest, but I don’t know how much that will happen.”

Last year, Koepka took a month off following his U.S. Open win at Erin Hills, only touched a club once, and still finished T-6 at The Open at Royal Birkdale. While this will be his final competitive start before Carnoustie, he expects to make a strong run toward a third major title next month in Scotland.

“I’m shutting it down for a while. I don’t feel like I need to play,” Koepka said. “I feel like my game’s in a good spot, played really well this week. Just some stupid mistakes and mental errors. That’s all it was, lack of focus and low energy. To be honest with you, I’m not surprised. I did play well though, I putted well, and I’m somewhat pleased.”

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Spieth ends busy stretch without top-10 finish

By Will GrayJune 24, 2018, 7:39 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – There were no final-round heroics this time around for Jordan Spieth at the Travelers Championship.

After taking the title last year with perhaps the most memorable shot of the year, Spieth appeared poised to make a robust defense of his title after an opening-round 63 gave him a share of the lead. But that proved to be as good as it would get, as he played the next three rounds in a combined 3 over to drop outside the top 40 on the final leaderboard.

It marked the end of a pedestrian run of six events in seven weeks for Spieth, during which his best finish was a tie for 21st at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

“A lot of cut-line golf, which is somewhat unusual historically for me, fortunately,” Spieth said after closing with a 1-under 69. “Kind of a grind, but I made actually a lot of progress where I needed to within the last few weeks.”

Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

Spieth has struggled to get on track on the greens this year, but he has started to turn a corner in recent weeks, specifically during a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament, and he picked up more than three shots on the field this week in strokes gained: putting.

“My putting’s right on point where it needs to be. It’s getting better every single week,” Spieth said. “It’s the best it’s been in a couple years.”

Unfortunately for Spieth, a slight uptick in putting has coincided with some regression from his normally reliable ball-striking. Of the 74 players who made the cut at TPC River Highlands, he ranked 61st in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

“I’ve just got to kind of get my alignment back in order on the full swing. It’s tough when you swing and you think you hit a good shot, and you look up and the ball’s, it could be 15 yards right or 15 yards left, and it’s all because of alignment,” Spieth said. “It’s literally the same thing I went through with the putting. I’ve just got to find a way to get it back on track with the full swing.”

Having concluded a busy stretch, Spieth noted that he now has “a few weeks off.” But still in search of his first quality chance to contend heading into a final round this year, he didn’t rule out the notion of adding a start before defending his title at Carnoustie next month.

Spieth is not in the field for next week’s Quicken Loans National, but he won the John Deere Classic in both 2013 and 2015, which will be played the week before The Open.

“As far as leading into The Open, we’ll see,” Spieth said. “Last year I went in after three weeks off and it didn’t hurt me. So I believe I can get the work in whether I’m playing or not, to get the repetitions.”

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Chamblee comments on Choi's unique step-through swing

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 24, 2018, 3:55 pm

The golf world found itself enamored with a largely unknown journeyman this weekend.

Ho-sung Choi went from 554th in the world to No. 1 in the hearts of all those who swing the golf club just a little bit differently thanks to his run at the Korean Open.

The 44-year-old with the exaggerated step through impact found himself two off the pace through 54 holes and in contention for one of two available invitations to this year's Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Choi fell out of the hunt for tournament title and the Open exemption with a final-round 74, but nonetheless left an impression with his tie for fifth.

Asked about Choi's swing Saturday night, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee offered the following:

"If Chi Chi Rodriguez and Gary Player had a golf school, what would their first professional golfer swing like? Voila," Chamblee said.

"Both those legends had walk through finishes, but Ho Sung has taken this move to a new level with a borderline pirouette to keep from hanging back.

"In an era when professional golfers get accused of having golf swings that all look alike, I’ve never seen anyone swing quite like Ho Sung Choi.

"I can’t wait to try this on the range tomorrow."

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Wallace holds off charges to win BMW International

By Associated PressJune 24, 2018, 3:43 pm

PULHEIM, Germany - England's Matt Wallace shot a 7-under 65 to hold off a record-breaking charge from Thorbjorn Olesen and win the BMW International Open on Sunday.

Wallace finished on 10-under 278 - just ahead of Olesen, Mikko Korhonen and 2008 winner Martin Kaymer, whose chances took a blow with a bogey on the 17th hole.

''I want to keep building on this,'' Wallace said after his third European Tour win. ''Obviously this gives me a lot of confidence to go on and play well and I want to kick on and hopefully do this in the bigger events from now on.''

Full-field scores from the BMW International Open

Olesen had played himself into contention with the lowest round in tournament history, with nine birdies and an eagle for an 11-under 61. It was the lowest round of his European Tour career and it gave the Dane a three-shot lead before the final group had even teed off.

''I was just trying today to go out there and build on my game, see if I could shoot a low score,'' Olesen said. ''Obviously as the round progressed I kept on thinking birdies and trying to make the round better. Finishing with four birdies was pretty nice.''

Wallace turned in 34 but then made five birdies in seven holes from the turn to edge a shot past Olesen. He waited as Kaymer and Korhonen went close with rounds of 68 and 67, respectively.

England's Aaron Rai and Denmark's Lucas Bjerregaard finished joint-fifth with rounds of 69.