Park, Ko, Feng finish gold, silver, bronze at Olympics

By Nick MentaAugust 20, 2016, 5:00 pm

With a round of 5-under 66, Inbee Park ran away from the field to win the first gold medal ever awarded for women’s golf. Here’s how things wrapped up in Rio, where Lydia Ko birdied the 18th hole to edge Shanshan Feng for silver:

Leaderboard: Park (-16), Ko (-11), Feng (-10), Haru Nomura (-9), Stacy Lewis (-9)

Gold: This is Park’s 23rd worldwide win and her first since the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November. Just three months ago, Park was struggling her way through injury to reach the LPGA Hall of Fame. Heading into Rio, she had played just one event in two months – she missed the cut – and attention was turning toward a potential retirement. But for 72 holes at the Olympics, the seven-time major winner looked as sharp as she ever has. Up two to start the day, she played her first nine holes a bogey-free 4 under to pull away quickly and for good. She mixed three birdies with two bogeys on the back to walk to the finish. The former world No. 1 said earlier this week that winning a gold medal would probably be “the highlight” of her career. As for what she does now, next month’s Evian Championship is the only one of the LPGA’s five current majors she hasn’t won. A victory in France would make Park one of only two players (Karrie Webb) in golf history to claim five different major titles. She’s already the first to own multiple majors and a gold.

Silver: Ko quickly slipped out of contention for the gold and was just even par through 15 holes before playing her final three holes in 2 under par, including a clutch birdie at 18 to claim the silver medal. Had she missed the final putt, Ko would’ve been headed to a playoff with Feng.

Bronze: Feng, a 15-time worldwide winner and one-time major champion, turned in four straight under-par rounds including Saturday’s 69. But while much of the field closed with birdies, Feng played her final six holes in 1 over, good enough to hang on for third and a coveted spot on the Olympic podium.

Biggest disappointments: Lewis and Nomura came up one shot and a few inches short of a playoff with Feng for bronze. Lewis fired a closing 66 and birdied 16 and 17 before leaving a final birdie try hanging on the lip at the 18th hole:

Nomura, separately, posted a bogey-free 65 but was done in by this missed backhanded tap-in attempt during her first round on Wednesday:

Rest of the U.S.: Playing in the final group with Park and Ko, Piller made two birdies and two bogeys in her first five holes before fading for good with dropped shots at 9, 13 and 14. She went from a tie for second to a tie for 11th at 6 under. Thompson went out in the first group off the back nine and posted 5-under 66 to finish minus-3, tied for 19th. 

Round of the day/Shot of the day: Russia’s Maria Verchenova set a new Olympic record with her 9-under 62 Sunday, besting Marcus Fraser, Matt Kuchar and Stacy Lewis who shared the previous mark of 63. Verchenova made eight birdies, two bogeys and this hole-in-one at the par-3 fourth:

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Five-time Open champ Thompson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia - Golf Australia says the family of five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has announced his death. He was 88.

Thomson had been suffering from Parkinson's disease for more than four years and died at his Melbourne home surrounded by family members on Wednesday morning.

Born on Aug, 23, 1929, Thomson was two months short of his 89th birthday.

The first Australian to win the British Open, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by American Tom Watson.

On the American senior circuit. he won nine times in 1985.

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USC's Gaston leaves to become head coach at A&M

By Ryan LavnerJune 19, 2018, 11:00 pm

In a major shakeup in the women’s college golf world, USC coach Andrea Gaston has accepted an offer to become the new head coach at Texas A&M.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gaston, who informed her players of her decision Monday night, has been one of the most successful coaches over the past two decades, leading the Trojans to three NCAA titles and producing five NCAA individual champions during her 22-year reign. They have finished in the top 5 at nationals in an NCAA-record 13 consecutive seasons.

This year was arguably Gaston’s most impressive coaching job. She returned last fall after undergoing treatment for uterine cancer, but a promising season was seemingly derailed after losing two stars to the pro ranks at the halfway point. Instead, she guided a team with four freshmen and a sophomore to the third seed in stroke play and a NCAA semifinals appearance. Of the four years that match play has been used in the women’s game, USC has advanced to the semifinals three times.  

Texas A&M could use a coach with Gaston’s track record.

Last month the Aggies fired coach Trelle McCombs after 11 seasons following a third consecutive NCAA regional exit. A&M had won conference titles as recently as 2010 (Big 10) and 2015 (SEC), but this year the team finished 13th at SECs.

The head-coaching job at Southern Cal is one of the most sought-after in the country and will have no shortage of outside interest. If the Trojans look to promote internally, men’s assistant Justin Silverstein spent four years under Gaston and helped the team win the 2013 NCAA title.  

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Spieth 'blacked out' after Travelers holeout

By Will GrayJune 19, 2018, 9:44 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – It was perhaps the most-replayed shot (and celebration) of the year.

Jordan Spieth’s bunker holeout to win the Travelers Championship last year in a playoff over Daniel Berger nearly broke the Internet, as fans relived that raucous chest bump between Spieth and caddie Michael Greller after Spieth threw his wedge and Greller threw his rake.

Back in Connecticut to defend his title, Spieth admitted that he has watched replays of the scene dozens of times – even if, in the heat of the moment, he wasn’t exactly choreographing every move.

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“Just that celebration in general, I blacked out,” Spieth said. “It drops and you just react. For me, I’ve had a few instances where I’ve been able to celebrate or react on a 72nd, 73rd hole, 74th hole, whatever it may be, and it just shows how much it means to us.”

Spieth and Greller’s celebration was so memorable that tournament officials later shipped the rake to Greller as a keepsake. It’s a memory that still draws a smile from the defending champ, whose split-second decision to go for a chest bump over another form of celebration provided an appropriate cap to a high-energy sequence of events.

“There’s been a lot of pretty bad celebrations on the PGA Tour. There’s been a lot of missed high-fives,” Spieth said. “I’ve been part of plenty of them. Pretty hard to miss when I’m going into Michael for a chest bump.”

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Pregnant Lewis playing final events before break

By Randall MellJune 19, 2018, 9:27 pm

Stacy Lewis will be looking to make the most of her last three starts of 2018 in her annual return to her collegiate roots this week.

Lewis, due to give birth to her first child on Nov. 3, will tee it up in Friday’s start to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Arkansas. She won the NCAA individual women’s national title in 2007 while playing at the University of Arkansas. She is planning to play the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship next week and then the Marathon Classic two weeks after that before taking the rest of the year off to get ready for her baby’s arrival.

Lewis, 33, said she is beginning to feel the effects of being with child.

“Things have definitely gotten harder, I would say, over the last week or so, the heat of the summer and all that,” Lewis said Tuesday. “I'm actually excited. I'm looking forward to the break and being able to decorate the baby's room and do all that kind of stuff and to be a mom - just super excited.”

Lewis says she is managing her energy levels, but she is eager to compete.

“Taking a few more naps and resting a little bit more,” she said. “Other than that, the game's been pretty good.”

Lewis won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship in 2014, and she was credited with an unofficial title in ’07, while still a senior at Arkansas. That event was reduced to 18 holes because of multiple rain delays. Lewis is a popular alumni still actively involved with the university.