CHAMPIONS
Champs Update: Lexi Goes Low, Another Near Miss for Rose January 30, 2017 By David Shefter, USGA

Lexi Thompson fell just short in the Bahamas despite a performance that included her career-low round, a 12-under 61. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

Due to the continuous rise of women’s international golf, American golfers claimed only two victories during the 2016 LPGA Tour schedule: 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Lexi Thompson (Honda LPGA Thailand) and Brittany Lang in the U.S. Women’s Open at CordeValle.

American players are off to a much stronger start early in 2017. USA flags dotted the leader board on Sunday at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, which eventually came down to Thompson, who carded a 12-under-par 61 in Friday’s second round, a career best, and fellow Floridian Brittany Lincicome. Lincicome would prevail on the first playoff hole after Thompson failed to get up and down for birdie on the par-5 18th hole.

In defeat, Thompson was encouraged to see her hard work produce improved results.

“This whole offseason, I swear I putted two and a half hours each day, it seemed like,” Thompson, 21, said. “I was just doing nonstop putting drills just trying to get my confidence up, and it showed here. It’s paying off. I am going to work extremely hard and stay confident with it.”

The LPGA Tour will be back in action for the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open Feb. 16-19 when 2012 U.S. Amateur champion and world No. 1 Lydia Ko is expected to make her season debut.

Rose Close Again

A couple of weeks removed from his runner-up finish in the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose again produced a top-five effort on Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Rose led after Thursday’s 7-under 65 on Torrey Pines’ North Course, a round that included a pair of eagle-3s. But he failed to break 70 over the last three days and settled for a share of fourth place at 9-under 279, four strokes behind winner and PGA Tour rookie Jon Rahm, who eagled the 72nd hole on the South Course to all but clinch his first Tour victory.

Rahm, 22, of Spain, closed out his amateur career last June by earning low-amateur honors in the 116th U.S. Open, at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. He won the 2015 McCormack Medal for being No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, which earned him an exemption into the field at Oakmont.

Two USGA champions from 2003 posted top-10 finishes, as well. Defending Farmers Insurance Open champion Brandt Snedeker (U.S. Amateur Public Links) and Brian Harman (U.S. Junior Amateur) tied for ninth at 7-under 281.

The buzz at the start of the week centered on nine-time USGA champion Tiger Woods, who was making his first official PGA Tour start since the Wyndham Championship in August of 2015 and owned eight victories at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods, however, struggled out of the gate with a 4-over 76 on the South Course and missed the cut along with defending U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and world No. 1 Jason Day. The three were paired for the first two rounds.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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