Young American

By Randall MellJuly 10, 2009, 4:00 pm
2009 U.S. WomenBETHLEHEM, Pa. ' If you watched Alexis Thompsons mother closely Friday, you could see her stroke the rosary beads around her left wrist as she watched her gifted daughter take this U.S. Womens Open by storm.
 
Other times, Judy Thompson would clutch the rosary around her neck.
 
By days end, you couldnt help wondering what cosmic forces her mother called into play.
 
Thompson is playing at a level few juniors will ever reach.
 
At 14 years and 5 months old, Thompson made the cut.
 
She came here for so much more than that, though.
Alexis Thompson
Alexis Thompson reacts to missing a putt on the 18th hole during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open. (Getty Images)
Thats what makes her story compelling.
 
I wasnt just looking to make the cut, said Thompson, who just completed the eighth grade in Coral Springs, Fla. I know I can contend if my games on out here.
 
She means it, believes it, wants it with every fiber of her 5-foot-9 frame.
 
Jim McLean, her swing coach, knows because she kept him on the driving range for nearly two hours after the first round. She was so frustrated with her ball striking she went through four buckets of balls, refusing to leave with darkness approaching. This was after she opened with a 71, good for a tie for sixth place at Saucon Valley Country Clubs Old Course, one of the most difficult U.S. Womens Open setups in years.
 
Jim McLean is one of the best teachers in the world, and Lexis out there pushing him, said Scott Thompson, her father and caddie. Shes so competitive and so hard on herself.
 
Halfway through the U.S. Womens Open, Thompson is tied for eighth.
 
At 2-over 144, shes just five shots behind the leader, Cristie Kerr.
 
Thompson isnt the youngest player to make the cut in the history of the U.S. Womens Open. In fact, she isnt the youngest to make the cut this year. Alison Lee of Los Angeles, whos 16 days younger than Thompson, also made the cut on Friday. Still, Thompsons turning heads here by getting in contention.
 
I think its pretty phenomenal to be 14 and in the top 10 of a major, said Lindsey Wright, a fifth-year LPGA pro tied with Thompson. Shes not a professional golfer. Its pretty awesome.
 
Thompson isnt a pro, but shes no rookie, either. She became the youngest player to qualify for a U.S. Womens Open when she was 12. This is her third U.S. Womens Open, her fourth major. Making the cut in a major is old hat. She made the cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April and tied for low amateur honors.
 
Thompsons resume is already impressive. Shes the No. 1 junior in the nation, the reigning U.S. Girls Junior champion, the youngest winner in the history of the PGA Junior Championship, the Doral Publix Junior and the Doherty Cup.
 
The fire that fuels her is visible.
 
After a double bogey Friday, Thompsons famed scowl emerged.
 
A bad shot looks like it physically hurts her.
 
Its part of what makes her great, McLean said. She didnt have her A game in the first round, but she scored well, shot 71 and is tied for sixth in the U.S. Womens Open, but shes unhappy when shes done. I dont think too many people would be upset with a 71 in a major.
 
McLean tried to cheer her up by reminding her where she stood on the leaderboard.
 
She didnt want to hear it, McLean said. She says, `I dont care, I didnt hit it good.
 
Scott has displayed a gifted touch as a golf dad. His oldest, Nicholas Thompson, is a PGA Tour pro. His second child, Curtis, 16, is an up-and-coming junior, too. Lexi is going where no juniors ever gone before. The fact that shes playing in her fourth major is remarkable. Lorena Ochoa, the worlds No. 1 player, was 21 when she played in her fourth major.
 
Scott admires his daughters passion for the game, but he does worry that she can push too much, expect too much and take the disappointments too hard. Scott sees the big picture.
 
I have to get that under control a little bit, Scott said.
 
Lexi knows, too.
 
We have our father-daughter moments, Lexi said. After I hit a bad shot, its not real pretty, but thats OK. We love each other.
 
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    Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

    By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

    Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

    On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Web.com Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

    In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

    Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Web.com Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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    Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

    By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

    Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

    He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

    McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

    "That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

    Check out the full interview below:

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    Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

    By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

    Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

    He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

    He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

    He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

    And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

    While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

    The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

    Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

    Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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    Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

    By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

    In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

    Made Cut

    Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

    The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

    To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

    Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

    Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.



    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

    The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

    “Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

    Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

    Tweet of the week:

    Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

    “No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”


    Missed Cut

    Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

    As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

    Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

    In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

    Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

    Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

    In a story first reported by GolfChannel.com, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

    The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

    “The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

    Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.