Thompson excited to return home to family, Florida

By Randall MellNovember 18, 2013, 12:16 am

Lexi Thompson couldn’t have set up her homecoming more dramatically.

That’s what the LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Titleholders will feel like in Naples, Fla., next week. It’s a homecoming celebration for the South Floridian and her gifted golfing family.

With her victory Sunday at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational, Thompson returns to her Florida roots next week for the only LPGA event in her home state. She will make the 90-minute drive across Alligator Alley from her Coral Springs, Fla., home knowing she’s leading a sizeable parade of family and friends who will be following her there.

Holding off Stacy Lewis in a dramatic back-nine duel Sunday at Guadalajara Country Club in Mexico, Thompson made plans for a family get together in Naples even more special. The win was the third of Thompson’s LPGA career, her second in six weeks. It also will vault her into the top 10 in the Rolex world rankings for the first time, bumping her over Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr as the second-highest ranked American behind Lewis.

“It feels amazing,” Thompson said in her post-tournament news conference. “I’ve worked extremely hard these last few years, especially on my short game and my putting. So, to see it pay off this week, it means a lot.”

Thompson, 18, made a significant putting change before winning the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in early October, and the results are something that ought to concern the game’s best players. These last two victories are a reaffirmation of the promise Thompson showed qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open when she was 12 and then winning the LPGA’s Navistar Classic when she was 16.

Earlier this year, Lewis said Thompson would be a force if her putting ever caught up to her ball striking. Thompson is a bomber, the most consistent long-hitting driver on tour. She is also a strong iron player, ranking ninth on tour in greens in regulation. Her putting, at times, seemed all that was holding her back until she changed her setup in September. She moved her ball position outside her target line, further away from her. That simple change is making a huge difference.

Notably, Thompson beat Lewis with a putt at the last on Sunday in Mexico.

All tied at the 18th hole, Lewis and Thompson were both looking at 5-foot birdie putts. Thompson made hers first, and then Lewis lipped out, giving Thompson a one-shot triumph over the top-ranked American in the game.

“I’m really disappointed,” Lewis said. “I gave that one to her. I had that one in my hands, and just didn’t get it done.”

Thompson started Sunday with a two-shot lead on Lewis, but Lewis caught her on the back nine. With three consecutive birdies, Lewis took a one-shot lead with four holes to play.

“Stacy is an amazing player,” Thompson said. “I knew she could make a run at me anytime during that round. I knew I had to make birdies on top of her because she gets on a roll, and she doesn’t stop. She’s an amazing player and played great today.”

Lewis bogeyed the 17th to drop into a tie with Thompson.

The Thompson family was planning to come together for the CME Group Titleholders long before Lexi won on Sunday. In fact, Thompson set it up for her brother, Curtis, 20, to be on her bag as her caddie for the week in Naples. He’s a standout at LSU. Lexi's oldest brother, Nicholas, 30, also plans to make the trip with his wife and their six-week old baby, Nico. Nicholas plays on the PGA Tour.

Thompson’s parents, Scott and Judy, will also be in town with grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Thompson said. “It’s going to be a fun event. I have so much family coming to see me and support me. That means so much.”

Thompson would like nothing better than to turn a homecoming into another victory party.

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Five-time Open champ Thomson passes at 88

By Associated PressJune 20, 2018, 1:35 am

MELBOURNE, Australia – Five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thomson has died, his family said Wednesday. 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 Open Championship, Thomson went on to secure the title five times between 1954 and 1965, a record equaled only by Tom Watson.

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

Thomson also served as president of the Australian PGA for 32 years, designing and building courses in Australia and around the world, helping establish the Asian Tour and working behind the scenes for the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation organization where he was chairman for five years.

He also wrote for newspapers and magazines for more than 60 years and was patron of the Australian Golf Writers Association.

In 1979 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to golf and in 2001 became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contributions as a player and administrator and for community service.

Thomson is survived by his wife Mary, son Andrew and daughters Deirdre Baker, Pan Prendergast and Fiona Stanway, their spouses, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced over the next few days.

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Gaston leaves USC to become head coach at Texas 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.

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“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.