Thompson’s accuracy leads to a victory
“Fairways and greens” is a mantra that many golfers repeat during the course of a round to focus on consistency. Lexi Thompson has taken that to heart.
The 18-year-old Floridian won the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia last week with a new-found consistency off the tee and into the greens. She hit 60 of 72 Greens in Regulation (83 percent) and 40 of 56 fairways (71 percent) to offset an unusual low Driving Distance average (245 yards, which was a season low). She finished at a career-best 265 72-hole total and had all four rounds in the 60s for the first time.
It was the third consecutive start that Thompson hit at least 83 percent of the Greens in Regulation and the results have been a T9 at the Safeway Classic, a third at the Evian Championship and last week’s victory. In five top-10 finishes this season, Thompson has never hit less than 83 percent of the Greens in Regulation.
Thompson is ninth on the LPGA in Greens in Regulation (74 percent) and 90th in Driving Accuracy (68 percent). She is second in Driving Distance, at a 270.3 average, trailing only Nicole Smith (274.8 average).
“I’ve worked so hard this whole last year since Navistar (her first LPGA victory in 2011),” Thompson said. “Just working hard on my short game, improving on my short game in particular, and just to have it pay off, it means so much to me.”
1 and 2 in action
The top-ranked and second-ranked players in the world are in the field for this week’s LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship in South Korea.
No. 1 Inbee Park has finished in the top 10 only once (a T3 in China two weeks ago) since capturing her sixth title of the season at the U.S. Women’s Open. No. 2 Suzann Pettersen hasn’t finished worse than seventh in that same time span, which includes two wins and a T3 last week in Malaysia. She is the defending champion this week. A South Korean has never been Player of the Year.
“I’ve had a lot of wins this year but I don’t think I have been as consistent throughout the year as Suzann or Stacy (Lewis),” Park said, making her first start in South Korea as the No. 1-ranked player. “I think my second half has been a little slow but I think I’m learning a lot from watching those two players and how consistent they are on the golf course. This week I want to learn even more from Suzann and play my best.”
Here’s a look at how the top three stand in the race for the Rolex LPGA Player of the Year award, which awards points for top-10 finishes in tournaments, ranging from 30 for first to 1 for 10th. No. 3 Stacy Lewis is not in the field this week.
|Player Points Last Week|
|Inbee Park||290||Finished T32 (0 points)|
|Suzann Pettersen||213||Finished T3 (9 points)|
|Stacy Lewis||200||Finished T6 (5 points)|
Nicklaus in focus
South Korea’s SKY 72 Golf Club will feature women’s golf the next two weeks. The Ocean Course, designed by Steve Nicklaus, Jack’s second-oldest son, will be the site of the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship this week. The Korean LPGA will hold its KB Financial Star Championship next week on the Hanul Course.
Steve Nicklaus, who turned 50 this year, played football at Florida State in the early 1980s. Nick O’Leary is currently the Seminoles’ starting tight end and the son of Bill O’Leary, who does design work for the Nicklaus companies, and Nan, Jack’s only daughter.
The Ocean Course has a dramatic finish, highlighted by the drivable par-4 15th hole which could measure as little as 260 yards to the front of the green, guarded by bunkers and a lake.
South Koreans win at home
Suzann Pettersen is the only non-Asian player to win the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship, and the 33-year-old from Norway has done it twice (2007 and 2012).
South Koreans have won the tournament seven times in its 11-year history. Taiwan’s Candie Kung (2008) and Yani Tseng (2011) are the only two other winners from outside of South Korea.
There will be 35 South Korean players, including 12 members of the Korean LPGA, in the field this week.
The 54-hole LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship will be featured on Golf Channel all three days with coverage from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST each round (Friday-Sunday). … Yani Tseng has never finished worse than third at this event – a T2 in 2009, win in 2011 and third last year. … Shanshan Feng has finished first and second in the last two weeks and has made just four bogeys. She went 54 consecutive holes over the two tournaments without a bogey, a streak that ended on the 15th hole in the third round last week in Malaysia.