13-year-old Thompson collects Girls Jr

By Usga News ServicesJuly 27, 2008, 4:00 pm
USGAWEST HARTFORD, Conn. ' Alexis Thompson defeated Karen Chung, 5 and 4, to claim U.S. Girls Junior on Sunday at Hartford Golf Club, becoming the second-youngest winner in the events 60-year history.

At 13 years, 5 months and 17 days, Thompson is only two months older than 1999 champion Aree Song Wongluekiet, who was 13 years, 3 months, 7 days. Chung, also 13, would have been nine days older than Wongluekiet.

This was also the first time two 13-year-olds had met in the championship.

The long-hitting Thompson, who last year was the youngest-ever qualifier for the U.S. Womens Open and youngest quarterfinalist in U.S. Womens Amateur history, used her superior length to eventually wear down Chung, a first-time U.S. Girls Junior participant competing in her first match-play competition.
 
Over the 32 holes, Thompson was the equivalent of two over par, with the usual match-play concessions, while Chung was six over, including bogeys on three of the last four holes.

Thompson owned a 2-up lead at the break and maintained that advantage through 27 holes. But a winning birdie on the 28th hole and two winning pars at holes 31 and 32 closed out the match 45 minutes before a major thunderstorm rolled through the area.

Thompson joins a long list of high-profile past U.S. Girls Junior champions that include Hall of Famers Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Amy Alcott and Nancy Lopez, along with reigning U.S. Womens Open champion Inbee Park and current LPGA players Kelli Kuehne, Pat Hurst, Julieta Granada and In-Kyung Kim.

Winning this is at the top [of my list] definitely, Thompson said. Just winning this is huge. Coming home with the trophy means a lot.

To reach the final, Chung survived the longest 18-hole match in the championships history during Saturdays semifinals when she held off Kristina Wong in a 26-hole marathon.
 
Chung played 80 holes in a 48-hour period prior to Sundays match, while Thompson needed only 64 holes in the same time frame. Chungs brilliant short game, which had carried her in the previous rounds, was a little off against Thompson, much of that she attributed to nerves.

I was really nervous today, said Chung, who took up the game three years ago. It was pretty tough out there today with all the wind [in the afternoon]. And Alexis hitting it like 50 yards beyond me on every hole.

It does get on my nerves watching a girl hit an iron from where I am holding my wood.

Even with the calm conditions in the morning, Thompson continuously hit her drives past Chung, yet the match remained close. The two players traded holes on the first nine before Thompson won three consecutive holes from No. 10 for a 2-up lead. She led by as many as three holes before losing the 17th with a bogey.

Thompson opened the afternoon round with a winning par at the 19th hole, only to see Chung roll in a 12-footer for her first birdie of the match at the par-4 20th hole. Two holes later, the lead was trimmed to one when Chung converted a 15-foot birdie and Thompson failed from 8 feet.

But all week, Thompson had used the par-5 ninth and 10th holes to her advantage, reaching the 500-yard ninth in two during Saturdays quarterfinals and semifinals. While she failed to birdie that hole in the final match, she did hit one of her best shots of the week at the 10th, the 28th of the match. Her tee shot sailed was pushed to the right underneath some trees and she was forced to punch out to the fairway. Facing a 197-yard shot into the wind, Thompson pulled out her 7-wood and knocked it to 12 feet to set up a winning birdie and a 3-up lead.

As the storm moved closer, the winds continued to increase, making it tougher on the shorter-hitting Chung. She failed to reach the 402-yard 13th hole in two and when her 25-foot par slid 4 feet past the hole, Thompson, who reached the green with an iron, calmly two-putted from 18 feet for a 4-up lead.

At the 389-yard, par-4 14th hole, Chung again failed to reach the green in regulation and missed a 6-foot par putt to extend the match. Thompson then clinched the title by holing a 3-footer for par.

My summer has gone really good so far, said Thompson. Im feeling really confident going into the [U.S. Womens] Amateur and the Westfield PGA and any other golf tournaments.

Related Links:
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    Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

    Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

    While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


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    “It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

    Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

    “I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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    Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

    McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

    “I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


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    The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

    “There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

    He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

    “I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”

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    Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

    Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

    Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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    It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

    “If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

    Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

    “It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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    Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

    By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

    Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

    Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

    “It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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    Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

    “I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

    Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

    “If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”