Cheyenne Woods is giving the Symetra Tour’s season opener a bonus billing. It’s also now Cheyenne’s homecoming. After a big breakthrough winning the Australian Ladies Masters two weeks ago, Woods comes home to tee it up in Friday’s start of the Visit Mesa Gateway Classic, the launch of the Symetra Tour’s new season. The developmental tour is known as “The Road to the LPGA,” and that’s exactly where Woods hopes her commitment to the Symetra Tour leads. Woods, 23, couldn’t ask for a better place to start the journey. She grew up in Phoenix, just down the road from Mesa’s Longbow Golf Club, home to this week’s event. She has her own apartment in Phoenix. Her mother, Susan, picked her up at the Phoenix airport Monday afternoon after a 22-hour, two-legged flight back from Australia. Friends were waiting for Cheyenne when she got to her apartment. “It was so exciting,” Woods told GolfChannel.com. “Everyone was so excited, and it was nice to see that.” The only time Woods got emotional in her media interviews immediately after her win Down Under was when she thanked her family back home. She choked up. “Growing up, my family was so supportive,” Woods said in a telephone conversation Wednesday with GolfChannel.com. “They were my No. 1 fans. My mom was everything, in terms of taking me to golf lessons, supporting me at junior events. She made sacrifices to get me where I am today. I got emotional because my family wasn’t able to travel with me to Australia, and they didn’t get to enjoy that moment with me after all the hard work we’ve all put into my game.” Photo gallery: Cheyenne Woods through the years Woods is niece to Tiger Woods. Her father, Earl Jr., is Tiger’s half-brother, born into Earl Woods Sr.’s first marriage. Cheyenne’s parents divorced when she was young. Both Susan and Earl Jr. will be following Cheyenne at Longbow this week. So will lots of other family and friends. Cheyenne has two older half-brothers. “My family doesn’t get a lot of chances to see me compete,” Woods said. “They don’t travel a lot. Some haven’t seen me play since high school. Some have never seen me compete. For them to be able to come out this week, it will be special.” While Woods’ victory at the Australian Ladies Masters earned her a two-year exemption on the Ladies European Tour, it did not gain her any status to play the LPGA, and that’s the destination Woods is working toward. That’s why she’s making the commitment to the Symetra Tour. She plans to play some more LET events this year, too, but it won’t be her primary focus. “I’m going to focus on the Symetra Tour,” Woods said. “As of today, my plans haven’t changed. I think long-term, that’s the best decision for me. I’m able to play their entire season, with a chance to earn my LPGA tour card with a top-10 finish on the money list. I also have European Tour status, and I’ll play there when I can, but for now my plan is grinding out here on the Symetra Tour.” Woods is also planning to play the Volvik Championship next week at Industry Hills Golf Club’s Eisenhower Course outside Los Angeles. It will mark Woods’ fifth consecutive tournament. That’s a long haul given three of those events were international. “I took a day to rest when I got home,” Woods said. Woods credits her breakthrough Down Under to the work she did on her short game with her long-time coach, Mike Labauve. “In the offseason, we didn’t really focus on much other than wedges and short game,” Woods said. “That’s something that I think really made the difference for me.” Woods failed in her first two attempts to get through LPGA Q-School in 2012 and ’13, but she went overseas and earned a spot on the LET, playing it as a rookie last year. With the Symetra Tour expanding opportunities this year, Woods could get up to 20 starts on that tour. The Symetra Tour schedule was boosted from 15 events a year ago. While the Aussie Ladies Masters triumph might not have gained Woods an LPGA tour card, it did enhance her attractiveness as a draw for LPGA tournament directors with sponsor exemptions to fill. Woods played the LPGA co-sanctioned Women’s Australian Open on a sponsor’s exemption last week, tying for 23rd, her best finish in seven LPGA starts as a pro. Woods is represented by Mark Steinberg, also Tiger’s agent at Excel Sports Management. His team is helping her sort through opportunities, including a likely flood of sponsor invites. “We’ve received a tremendous amount of interest in Cheyenne,” said Andrew Kipper, Woods’ day-to-day manager at Excel Sports Management. “We’re evaluating the best path.” As an LPGA non-member, Woods is allowed to accept six sponsor exemptions this year. Her win Down Under also gets her into the Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship through LET eligibility criteria. Those starts won’t count against the five sponsor invites Woods has left this year. Also, she plans to try to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. If she does, that also won’t count against her limit of sponsor invites. That’s nine potential LPGA starts in 2014. Basically, there are four ways Woods can earn LPGA membership, but only one way she can earn status to play that tour as a member this season: • By winning an LPGA event this year, Woods would gain a two-year exemption as a tour member. She could accept immediate membership, or defer membership until the start of next year. • By accumulating non-member winnings that are the equivalent of top-40 money on the final LPGA money list, Woods could claim LPGA membership for 2015. Non-member money winnings only count in events with a cut. • By finishing among the top 10 on the season-ending Symetra Tour money list, Woods would earn LPGA membership for 2015. • By advancing through LPGA Q-School’s final stage at season’s end, Woods would earn membership for 2015. Wherever Woods path leads, she starts with terrific momentum from her LET victory. “It was a huge accomplishment for me,” Woods said. “I just gained so much confidence in my game and my ability.”
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Lee Westwood jumped out to a four-shot lead and Pablo Larrazabal jumped into a water hazard to escape hornets during the Malaysian Open second round on Friday. Westwood moved closer to ending a two-year winless drought in adding a 6-under-par 66 to his opening round of 65 at Kuala Lumpur Country Club. However, the action was overshadowed by Larrazabal needing on-course medical attention after being attacked by hornets at the 14th hole, the fifth of his round. ”They were three times the size of bees,” he said. ”They were huge and like 30 or 40 of them started to attack me big time. I didn’t know what to do. My caddie told me to run, so I start running like a crazy guy, but the hornets were still there, so the other players told me to jump in the lake. ”I ran to the lake, threw my scorecard down, took off my shoes and jumped in the water. It was the scariest moment of my career, for sure. I’ve never been so scared.” Larrazabal received medical treatment, including injections, for multiple stings. Then, in putting his shirt back on, the hornets also returned, so he played his last five holes in a borrowed shirt. Incredibly, he birdied the 14th hole en route to a round of 68 and a share of 25th place on 2 under. ”It looks like I’ll be playing the weekend, so tomorrow it will be very, very scary to play that hole,” Larrazabal said. In January, he defeated Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy to capture the Abu Dhabi Championship. Former No. 1 Westwood picked up eight birdies with his only error being a double bogey when he found water guarding the green at the par-three 11th hole. ”On the front nine I shot 5 under for my second day running, and the longest putt I holed was from four feet on the first. It was solid stuff. ”I got a little unlucky at 11, it was one of the best shots I hit all day, and the wind just gusted on me and it came up short in the water. But I rallied after that.” Antonio Lascuna from the Philippines carded 65 to hold the lead at 9 under before being overtaken by Westwood. Lascuna has won twice on the Asian Tour, and he shares second place with Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, who has scored 66-69. Defending champion Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand was tied with Larrazabal after a pair of 71s.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W. Va. – There were a few things that Billy Hurley III learned during his five years enlisted as a U.S. Navy lieutenant that have helped in his second career as a professional golfer. One has been useful in getting him into his current position as Greenbrier Classic leader through 54 holes. “I think that mental toughness and timing are two keys,” he explained. “They’re both very similar and very important in both jobs.” The other should come in handy now that he’ll be sleeping on the lead for a second consecutive night. “I slept fine last night. A benefit of the Navy is you learn to sleep anywhere. I think I’ll sleep fine tonight, too.” Following a lead by the PGA Tour’s only active military veteran on the Fourth of July, another lead one day later doesn’t quite fit the same patriotic narrative. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less substantive. A third-round 3-under 67 once again has Hurley atop the leaderboard, holding a two-stroke advantage over two-time major champion Angel Cabrera. That could sound like a daunting task for any player seeking his first career victory, but he doesn’t see it that way. Video: Hurley eyeing major win at Greenbrier The Greenbrier Classic: Articles, videos and photos “Sometimes you kind of can look at a guy like that who has won a bunch and two majors, kind of like, ‘Oh, he does that pretty nice,’” he explained. “It will be a new experience, [but] I’ve played with a major winners a couple times before.” It also helps that Hurley is looking at the situation as if he’s playing with house money. “I feel like I have my card locked up for next year, which is kind of a big piece of playing the last couple weeks for me,” he said. “So at this point, a win is kind of a bonus. I’m going to give it my best and try to win tomorrow, and try to hit shots and just have fun doing it. I haven’t really thought about it too much.” Maybe it’s his background having been deployed in far outreaches around the globe; maybe it’s his elevated status as the 80th-ranked player on the FedEx Cup points list. Either way, Hurley doesn’t seem intimidated by the moment. He doesn’t seem like the situation will be too big for him, like the pressure of the stakes will engulf him. He maintains that he’ll just try to emulate his first three rounds on Sunday afternoon. “I’m going to try to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I just want to put my mind in position so that I can play well.” Scratch that. He doesn’t want to keep doing what’s gotten him into the 54-hole lead. He wants to improve upon it. “I figure if I shoot the lowest score tomorrow, I can’t lose. So we’re just going to go out there and play nicely. If I play well with a two‑shot lead, I’m going to have to play really, really well.” If he does, it will be the culmination of one of the longer and undoubtedly the most circuitous route to the winner’s circle we’ve seen in a long time. From Navy lieutenant to competing on mini-tours, from the developmental Nationwide circuit to the PGA Tour and back again, Hurley will focus on just being himself. “I just tell myself to be Billy Hurley,” he said. “I just kind of tell myself and I’ve been telling myself the last couple of days, just be Billy Hurley. He’s doing pretty well.” Hey, it’s gotten him this far already. On Sunday, it just might get him a first career victory.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum made six birdies on the front nine on her way to a 6-under 65 Saturday that gave her a three-shot lead after the third round of the LPGA Malaysia tournament. Pornanong closed in on her first LPGA victory as she moved to 14-under 199 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Japan’s Ayako Uehara had three consecutive birdies starting at the 12th hole in a round of 69 to sit alone in second place. Four players were tied for third a stroke further back, including second-round leader So Yeon Ryu, who had double bogeys at both the 17th and 18th to give up her lead. Her South Korean compatriot Chella Choi was also at 10 under after a 68 which included a quadruple-bogey 8 at the 14th hole. They were joined by China’s Shanshan Feng (69) and 17-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko (70), who can take over the No. 1 ranking if she wins on Sunday and the currently top-ranked Stacy Lewis finishes tied for 12th or worse. Lewis was at 5 under, tied for 20th, after shooting a 72 which included a double bogey at the par-3 seventh. Pornanong made the turn in 29 – the first time she’s gone under 30 at the mid-point of a round – but had a more routine back nine with two birdies balanced out by two bogeys. ”The front nine was amazing,” the 25-year-old Thai player said. ”Like I make everything. Back nine I just feel a little bit nervous.” Ariya Jutanugarn had the round of day with a 64 that included nine birdies. She was five shots off the lead as she chases an LPGA card for next season. Ariya and Pornanong are aiming to become the first Thai players to win on the tour.
Two days after the last U.S. Ryder Cup task force meeting in San Diego earlier this month, Fred Couples, who is not among the 11 task force members, summed up the mood of the meetings. “I honestly think the next guy they choose will be someone the players want,” Couples said. Couples revealed that he’d already had a conversation with PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua about the vacant Ryder Cup captaincy and he planned to talk to the association’s president, Derek Sprague, within a few days. That meeting doesn’t seem likely to happen now. Or, if it does it will be short. According to Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte, Davis Love III will return to captain the U.S. team in 2016 at Hazeltine National in Minnesota. There is no question Love is the quintessential “players’ captain.” Remember, this is the same man who received almost universal support from the rank-and-file after the team blew a four-point lead heading into Sunday singles in 2012. When Love was criticized for sitting Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley on Saturday afternoon at Medinah, Lefty was the first to step to his captain’s defense. “You cannot put that on him; if anything, it was me,” Mickelson said in 2012. When Jim Furyk was asked on that Chicago night about his single’s loss to Sergio Garcia, he was just as adamant. “I’ve got 11 guys, I’ve got a captain, I’ve got four assistants that I know will pat me on the back; that know how I feel, understand how I feel. You know, we came here as a team. We wanted to win the Ryder Cup as a team, and we didn’t do it, but we are going to leave here in the same fashion,” Furyk said. Without dredging through fresh wounds, it’s safe to say last year’s captain, Tom Watson, didn’t enjoy the same level of support, which goes a long way to explaining why the PGA seems bent on giving Love a match-play mulligan. While Couples and Paul Azinger seemed to be the clubhouse leaders to captain the next U.S. team, given the intensity of the last few task force meetings, in retrospect it’s easy to make the leap to Love to lead the next American squad. But what also can’t be ignored is Love’s own emotions regarding the biennial matches. This is, after all, the same man who didn’t want to be involved in the last matches because of the bitter Medinah memories he would represent. “After Wales (2010 Ryder Cup), I said I’d be an all-time assistant captain,” Love said in September. “I’ll do whatever you guys want me to do. If they said come open boxes in the storage room I’d do it, because it’s fun. [But] sitting out in front and doing all that part, I enjoyed it but …” It’s also worth pointing out that Love is currently in the running for chairman of the PGA Tour’s Players Advisory Council, a position that will lead to a three-year term on the policy board if he’s elected. Never mind that if elected to PAC chair Love will be 54 years old by the time he is finished serving or that it will be his fifth term on the policy board. When asked about his nomination at Torrey Pines earlier this month Love explained that he felt it was his duty to serve on the board to help ease the transition to a new Tour commissioner, which seems likely to occur next year. It’s not a stretch to see this most recent news in a similar light. The PGA of America needs results and Love likely feels an obligation to provide . . well, redemption. Love was clearly the players’ choice, but for everyone else outside the circle of “11,” he will be a curious selection. Following months of meetings and media scrutiny, the PGA decided its best option was to circle back around and give Love a second act. The task force was supposed to provide answers. The task force was intended to create a blueprint for future success. Instead, the “11” dusted off the status quo and created a succession plan. Your scribe covered Love’s first captaincy extensively. It was an intense two years of detailed planning, which was perfect for Love’s Type A personality. His match mea cupla will be no different. What changes this time will be the scrutiny. The golf world expected something dramatic, something revolutionary. Instead, they got something borrowed and bruised. Love was a very good captain in 2012, but we just don’t know if he can do any better and, make no mistake, the scrutiny this time around will be much more intense.
CRANS MONTANA, Switzerland – Danny Willett won his third European Tour title after a one-shot victory over Matthew Fitzpatrick in the European Masters on Sunday. The 27-year-old, who tied sixth at the British Open on Monday, shot a 5-under par 65 to finish on 17 under overall. Willett made five birdies in a bogey-free final round unlike Fitzpatrick, who bogeyed the first and 11th holes. Sergio Garcia finished seventh on 11 under after carding a six-under par 64 for his final round. Elsewhere, Patrick Reed was 16th on six under. England’s Lee Westwood finished tied 37th on three-under after closing with a two-over 72 that included a 10 on the par-5 14th hole.
Lorena Ochoa won’t be teeing it up in her LPGA event in Mexico City this week, and she won’t be playing the pro-am, either. Ochoa happily reports there is a very good reason for that: She’s seven months pregnant, due in January with her third child, a boy. “Every other year the players come here, I have a big belly,” Ochoa told GolfChannel.com with a laugh. “I haven’t practiced or played that much.” Ochoa’s youngest child, Julia, turned 2 years old last week. Her oldest, Pedro, will turn 4 in December. She and her husband, Andres Conesa Labastida, plan to name their newest child Diego. While Ochoa won’t be playing this week, her presence will be strong throughout the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. From the clinics to the pro-am to the trophy presentation, Ochoa, who turns 34 on Sunday, will be there relishing all that the tournament means to her and to growing golf in her homeland. It seems Ochoa’s life is all about nurturing these days, nurturing family, her foundation’s charities and her golf tournament, which turns 8 years old this week. Ochoa continues to pour herself into her causes. “It’s a very special week,” said Ochoa, a 27-time LPGA winner who retired five seasons ago. “In a way, it makes me feel like I’m back on tour. “I keep telling Julia and Pedro that my tournament is coming, and my friends are coming. They are getting older and more aware of golf and what I used to do. It’s an exciting week.” While the Lorena Ochoa Invitational has faced some sponsorship challenges, Ochoa happily reports obstacles are being overcome to keep the event going. Golf isn’t a national sports priority in Mexico, but she has been working hard to secure its future. The event’s contract runs through next year. “We have a lot of challenges every year, especially this year, with the Formula One race here last week,” Ochoa said. “It was difficult because all the attention went to that. At the same time, we are solid. We struggled a little bit with sponsors, but we were able to make it, and we already have sponsors committed to next year. So, we’ve decided to continue on with the LPGA. We’re in good shape.” Ochoa was the Rolex world No. 1 when she announced her retirement in the spring of 2010. Today, Alejandra Llaneza is the highest ranked Mexican woman in the world rankings at No. 327. Ochoa is hopeful her event and golf’s return to the Olympics next year will fuel the game’s growth in Mexico. “We don’t get the attention we would like,” Ochoa said of golf. Ochoa says having Carlos Ortiz playing on the PGA Tour is a big deal now. “The girls are getting there,” Ochoa said. “Little by little, they’re getting in position. We have a few on the Symetra Tour and a few in Q-School in December.” Llaneza is one of three players from Mexico who will be competing in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational on sponsor exemptions. Llaneza won on the Symetra Tour this year and finished sixth on that tour’s money list, earning a return to the LPGA. She was an LPGA rookie in 2014. Also playing on sponsor invites are Margarita Ramos, a second-year Symetra Tour player, and amateur Gaby Lopez, the University of Arkansas standout who was runner-up in the NCAA Women’s Championship last May. “I think this is one of the main reasons we have the tournament,” Ochoa said. “It really opens a door for these players. It’s important for them to be able to play with the top players, to dream about playing the LPGA and see that they belong.” This same trio of Mexican women played well in Ochoa’s event a year ago. Llaneza tied for 19th and Ramos and Lopez each tied for 23rd. It may be a limited-field event, but it’s a strong field of 36 players. “I’d love to see Mexico have a team in the Olympics,” Ochoa said. “I think it’s a realistic goal.” Ochoa’s foundation continues to do the work she dedicated herself to even before she retired. La Barranca is continuing to grow. That’s the primary and secondary school Ochoa’s foundation supports for 355 students in the impoverished outskirts of Guadalajara, where she grew up. Ochoa’s efforts have helped fund a recent expansion, with a new roof erected over the school’s basketball court and a music program expanded with pianos, cellos, violins and other instruments provided. “We are really happy with the way it’s been growing,” Ochoa said. “Now that I have more time to be there, it feels good to see the improvements and what all the hard work is doing.” Ochoa’s Lorena’s Links Community Programs have grown beyond nine sites in Southern California, where they offer outreach activities to families in schools, parks and at her golf academy in Jurupa Valley. Lorena’s Links reaches youth with programs that include golf but go beyond the game. They’ve expanded to Texas now. The Lorena Ochoa Invitational is an important part of Ochoa’s vision for her country and the game. “The LPGA’s been a great support,” Ochoa said. “There’s been real teamwork. They understand how challenging it’s been, but how important it is. We’re going to continue to make it happen. Hopefully, next year, it will be easier.”
No player has ever stood taller on the foothills of the French Alps going into the final round of the Evian Championship. South Korea’s In Gee Chun’s climb atop the leaderboard on the summit overlooking Lake Geneva is becoming historic. With a 6-under-par 65 Saturday, Chun is on the verge of more than winning the year’s final major. She has a chance to smash the 72-hole scoring records for men’s and women’s major championship golf. At 19-under 194, Chun leads fellow South Korean Sung Hyun Park (67) by four shots and China’s Shanshan Feng (69) by six. The 72-hole scoring record in relation to par in men’s golf is 20 under and the record in women’s golf is 19 under. Jason Day set the mark for men winning the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2015 and Henrik Stenson matched it winning The Open Championship at Royal Troon this year. Dottie Pepper set the mark for women winning the Kraft Nabisco at Mission Hills in 1999 with Karen Stupples (2004 Women’s British Open), Cristie Kerr (2010 LPGA Championship) and Yani Tseng (2011 LPGA Championship) matching it. “I just try to focus on my game, because I know all the players [at Evian] are really good,” Chun said. Chun’s charm, her ability to connect to fans with her easy smile, warmed the galleries on a cold Saturday in the foothills of the French Alps. She goes by the nickname “Dumbo,” a moniker she says she gained because of her natural curiosity, “like the baby elephant.” She has a devoted fan club called “The Flying Dumbos,” who adore the way she connects with galleries during play. Chun is trying to win wire to wire. She opened with a 63 to gain a share of the lead with Park and followed that up with a 66 on Friday to take a two-shot lead. She shot that 65 Saturday despite a double bogey at the ninth hole. Evian Championship: Articles, photos and videos Chun said she isn’t focusing on records. “It’s a really big honor, but I just have to stick to my game plan,” Chun said. “My game plan’s always the same. I try not to think about leading, because it becomes difficult to enjoy my game.” Chun, 22, is looking to join South Korean legend Se Ri Pak as the only players to make their first two LPGA victories major championships. Chun won the U.S. Women’s Open last summer. Chun’s 194 total at Evian smashed the 54-hole women’s major championship record by five shots. Annika Sorenstam previously held the mark, setting it at the 2004 LPGA Championship at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware. To break the record for low total score in a women’s majors, Chun merely needs to shoot 1-over-par 72 on Sunday. Betsy King holds that mark at 267. She set it at the 1992 LPGA Championship at Bethesda Country Club in Maryland. To break the low total score in a men’s or women’s major, Chun needs to shoot 69. Stenson set the mark at 264 at Royal Troon this year. With low scores aplenty at Evian, Chun is taking nothing for granted. Park pulled within a shot of her Saturday with birdies at the 13th and 14th holes before Chun answered with an eagle at the 15th. “I expect tomorrow to be exciting,” said Park, 22, a star on the Korean LPGA Tour with seven victories this season. “I’ll stay the course and hope to have a good result.” Chun was the Korean LPGA Tour’s Player of the Year last year, Park’s a lock to win it this year. In 15 LPGA starts as a rookie this season, Chun has done everything but win. She has nine top-10 finishes, including three second-place finishes and three third-place finishes. She seems to have a game built for majors. She won five “majors” last year, with two KLPGA majors and two Japan LPGA majors to go with her U.S. Women’s Open. She is second on the American-based LPGA this year in scoring and putts per greens in regulation, trailing Lydia Ko in both categories. Chun says she likes playing under major championship pressure. “With all the nervousness and pressure, I play [better],” she said.
JACKSON, Miss. – Cody Gribble and his caddie talked a ton during the final nine holes of his impressive run to a Sanderson Farms Championship victory. Very little was about golf. They talked about Gribble’s Texas Longhorns and their big win in football over Baylor on Saturday. They talked about the Chicago Cubs and the World Series. They discussed their upcoming trip to Las Vegas. Anything to keep Gribble’s mind off the incredible run he was making. ”I knew I was in a good spot and I knew I was playing well,” Gribble said. ”It’s hard not to sit there and look at the scoreboard, look where you’re at and how you’re doing.” The small talk worked. Gribble finished with a 7-under 65 – which included five birdies on a spectacular back nine – to turn a tight fight into a four-stroke victory and his PGA Tour title. The 26-year-old rookie started the day a stroke behind playing partners Chris Kirk and Luke List. Gribble had two birdies on the front nine to stay in contention, then ran off birdies on Nos. 11, 13, 15, 16 and 17. He finished at 20-under 268. Gribble looked as if he might have trouble just making the cut at the Country Club of Jackson after an opening 73. He bounced back with a 63 in the second round to jump into contention – one shy of the course record – and followed it up with a 67 on Saturday. On Sunday, Gribble started slowly, but picked up steam on an unseasonably hot day in Jackson where the temperature pushed 90 degrees. He made a short birdie putt on 11 and then hit a difficult downhill 18-foot putt for birdie on 13. Then he was rolling, making three more birdies on 15, 16 and 17 to pull away. Kirk and List each shot 70 to tie for second with England’s Greg Owen (68). ”Cody played unbelievable,” List said. ”He definitely deserved to win. I was happy to scramble around and get a couple under out of it.” Kirk won the tournament in 2011, back when it was called the Viking Classic and played at nearby Annandale Golf Club. He was in contention again at the Country Club of Jackson after shooting a 65 in the third round, but nobody was able to keep up with Gribble’s torrid pace on Sunday. ”It was definitely impressive watching Cody play that back nine,” Kirk said. ”I wish that I could have given him a little better run. I was just a little bit off, I guess.” Gribble played in college at Texas and is the second member of the school’s 2012 national championship team to win a PGA Tour event. The other is Jordan Spieth. Gribble obviously has a way to go to match the accomplishments of Spieth, who is among the world’s best players, but the Sanderson Farms win is certainly a good start. He earned $756,000, 300 FedExCup points and exempt status on tour through the 2018-19 season. The four-stroke win was the second largest in tournament history, trailing Frank Conner’s five-stroke win in 1988.
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Lexi Thompson isn’t looking in the rearview mirror. Yes, she says, the crushing blow she experienced losing the ANA Inspiration last spring made her even more determined to win a major championship, but she doesn’t like going back there in her head, for motivation or for anything else. “It’s definitely made me more determined than ever, but I’ve been such a determined person in general, any time I tee it up out there to win,” Thompson said. After a sluggish start Friday, Thompson caught fire on the back nine at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, making five consecutive birdies to shoot 4-under-par 68. She grabbed a share of the second-round lead with England’s Georgia Hall (67) through the morning wave. After Thompson’s round, a British reporter followed up a question about how determined the controversial ANA Inspiration loss made her with a question about whether winning this week would bring redemption. “I’m not too sure,” Thompson said. “I don’t really have any comments about that tournament anymore. I’m just going to focus on one shot at a time on this weekend and see where it goes.” Thompson doesn’t like going back to Rancho Mirage in her memory, doesn’t like the feelings it brings back. She has made that clear, but the strength shown if she bounces back to claim a major this year might rank as the top story in women’s golf in 2017, as one of the top stories in all of golf. The story includes all the emotions Thompson has felt watching her mother, Judy, go through treatment for uterine cancer in late spring and early summer. Thompson made a statement about her golf, winning the Kingsmill Championship in May, a little more than a month after that controversial four-shot penalty cost her the ANA Inspiration. Thompson was asked at Kingsmill what conscious plan she put in place to bounce back from the ANA. “I went straight home, and I was golfing the next day, if not the day after,” she said. “I was so determined just to keep on working on my game, because I knew that [the ANA] was the best golf I have ever played. I just couldn’t let it get to me.” And she added one more thing about rebounding after the year’s first major. “I’m so over it,” she said. “It’s unfortunate what happened, but it’s time to move on.” Ricoh Women’s British Open: Articles, photos and videos In four her last nine starts, Thompson has a victory and four second-place finishes. There was also some bounce back in Friday’s round. After a couple front-nine bogeys and making the turn in 38, Thompson caught fire. She ran off five consecutive birdies beginning at the 10th hole. A personal record run of birdies, perhaps? “I would say that’s probably it,” Thompson said. “No others kind of come to mind. “Once you get on that kind of streak, you really don’t think about it. I was just hitting it pretty well there, so I was just aiming at pins and going for it and made a few good putts.” Though she has put herself in contention almost every time she has teed it up the last three months, Thompson hasn’t closed the deal in all of them.After taking a four-shot lead coming home in the final round at the Manulife Classic, Thompson bogeyed four of the final seven holes before losing to Ariya Jutanugarn in a playoff. Thompson had the lead again going into the final round of the Meijer Classic in her very next start, but Brooke Henderson overtook her to win. Overall, Thompson has converted just one of her last five 36-hole leads and one of her last six 54-hole leads. Still, Thompson has been consistently putting up the best scores in the women’s game this year. Her 68.94 scoring average leads the LPGA. Her 68 Friday was her sixth consecutive round in the 60s. Notably, Thompson has some extra inspiration coming from her family. Her older brother, Nicholas, shot 63 to grab the first-round lead at the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic. Lexi grew up competing with older brothers Nicholas and Curtis in some spirited matches in Coral Springs, Fla., where they lived on the course at the TPC at Eagle Trace. “Any time we can all get together at home in very competitive matches, it’s pretty intense,” Thompson said. Plus, Thompson is continuing to get some special help at Kingsbarns. Her caddie, Kevin McAlpine, is a former Scottish Amateur champion. He caddied for four summers at Kingsbarns. “It’s great to have that local knowledge,” Thompson said. And the edge that gives.