Thompson turns putting around in time for ANA

By Randall MellApril 1, 2016, 11:14 pm

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lexi Thompson doesn’t technically have a swing coach, and that’s because she trusts her father’s eyes so much.

But Scott Thompson doesn’t feel like a coach when he’s on the range with his daughter these days. He feels like a cheerleader.

“This is the best Lexi’s ball striking has been for this long a period of time,” Scott said after watching Lexi post a 4-under-par 68 for a share of the lead with Ai Miyazato in the second round of the ANA Inspiration. “When I’m out on the range with her now, she’ll say, `OK, dad, how’s the swing look?’ I’m like, `I don’t see anything wrong.’ And it’s been like that for about eight months. I feel like a spectator. She’s just been striping it.”

Actually, that’s what made the 115-mile drive from Carlsbad to Rancho Mirage after the Kia Classic Sunday feel like such a long trip. Lexi finished 19 shots behind Lydia Ko there. It was all putting. Lexi hit 17 greens on Friday, 16 on Saturday and 17 again on Sunday, but she didn’t take fewer than 34 putts in any of those rounds.

Lexi was wasting all that good ball striking, and she knew it.

So on that long ride to the ANA Inspiration, Lexi turned to her father.

“I’m changing everything,” Lexi announced. “I can’t putt any worse than that. I’ve hit rock bottom.”

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Five days later, Thompson was soaring, all the way to the top of the leaderboard at Mission Hills, taking the lead at the year’s first major championship. She rolled in a 30-foot birdie at the last to go to 7 under overall. She broke loose with a big smile with a roar washing over her in that finish.

Scott has watched his daughter flash a lot of smiles this week.

“Feels like night and day,” he said.

Thompson is comfortable at Mission Hills and the Dinah Shore course. She can pound her driver around here, and she’s strong enough to muscle wedges out of the thick rough when she misses fairways. She can also get creative. She hooked a wedge around a tree at the 15th to hit that green in regulation and scramble to a par.

Two years ago, Thompson showed what she can do on this course when she combines her power game with a hot putter. She broke through to win her first major.

“I absolutely love this golf course and just this area,” Thompson said. “I'm always in such a good mood when I come here and drive around. There are just a lot of great memories that it brings back.”

Even Scott was surprised by the bold changes Lexi made practically on the eve of the year’s first major. She completely ditched the practice of closing her eyes while putting. She won the Honda Thailand doing that five weeks ago. She narrowed her stance this week, and she ditched her favorite mallet putter for an RX5, an exotically shaped design by Cure Putters.

“She’s never been that open minded about trying a lot of putters,” Scott said. “And she really likes a certain shape of putter.”

When Lexi said she was changing everything, she meant it. The Cure’s RX5 looks like something Industrial Lights & Magic would design. While the face is long and flat, the back of the putter is unusual. From behind, it looks like a pair of binoculars fashioned to the bottom of a club shaft.

“Putting is all about confidence, and the putter change, to the Cure, has helped me a lot,” Thompson said. “I feel a lot more comfortable over putts this week.”

Thompson says she is comfortable standing farther from the ball than players typically do, and that causes the putter toe to point up. The Cure is adjustable, allowing her to change the angle of the shaft to fit her stance while keeping the putter parallel to the ground.

Scott says it isn’t just the birdie chances dropping that Lexi likes seeing. It’s her improved lag putting with the RX5. That’s been important to this fast start.

“She hasn’t had any stressful par putts,” Scott said. “None. She’s been tapping in for par. She isn’t putting 4 footers for par anymore. The 4-footers might be for birdie, but they aren’t for par. That’s huge.”

With Thompson’s ball striking so dangerous, the putting gives her another huge chance at a major this weekend.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”