GolfDifferent Strokes

Lexi Thompson becomes just the seventh woman to play in PGA Tour event

Different Strokes: Training ground for future Ryder Cup stars and a memorable day for Stephen Gallacher

Into the bear pit, so to speak! Lexi Thompson will become just the seventh woman to play in a men’s professional event on the PGA Tour when she tees up in this week’s Shriners Childrens Hospital Open in Las Vegas, playing on a sponsor’s invitation.

After a relatively light playing schedule earlier this season, Thompson has had an active time of late playing for the United States in the Solheim Cup and also showing decent form in a fifth-placed finish behind Hyo Joo Kim in the Ascendant LPGA tournament in Texas, which finished on Sunday.

Thompson joins an elite group of women to play on the PGA Tour, which numbers Babe Didrikson Zaharias (who was first to do so in 1935 and made the cut twice in seven tournament outings, the only woman to make the cut in PGA events), Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley, Michelle Wie West and Brittany Lincicome.

“I’ll definitely need my top game going into next week, get that driver more in tune . . . so it will really be all down to ball striking and making those putts when I need it,” said Thompson, who felt that her game has trended positively: “I’ve been working extremely hard on my game and to see to pay off in these last few weeks, starting at Solheim Cup there, just to see the improvements, that’s all I’ve needed. Nothing but positives to take from it.”


Ryder Cup training ground

If you want to know just how important the upcoming World Amateur Team Championships are in the great scheme of things, then it is worth noting how many players from the recent Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup matches cut their teeth in the events before turning professional.

Out of the 48 players who represented Europe and the USA in Spain and Italy, no fewer than 27 to them had represented their countries in the Eisenhower Trophy (for men) and the Espirito Santo Trophy (for women).

Seven members of Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup team – including Rory McIlroy – had played in the Eisenhower, while 11 of Suzann Pettersen’s team – among them Leona Maguire – played in the Espirito Santo.

Ireland has selected two very strong teams for the upcoming edition, which takes place in Abu Dhabi (the men’s from October 18th-21st, the women from October 25th-28th): three Walker Cup players, Alex Maguire, Matt McClean and Liam Nolan form the three-man Irish team, while Beth Coulter, Sara Byrne and Áine Donegan, all on golfing scholarships in the USA, make up the women’s team.

Word of Mouth

“We’ve played a lot of fivesomes in college, just our buddies going out playing. It was a cool experience for me. I feel like a lot of these things that I’m doing at the moment are kind of the first time I’m doing it, so hopefully I’ll be able to learn from it, and next time I’ll be better off” – Ludvig Aberg, one of four players to lose out to Luke List in a five-way playoff at the Sanderson Farms on the PGA Tour. List sank a 45-footer for birdie to see off his opponents.

By the Numbers: 7/6

Leona Maguire’s seventh place finish in the Ascendant LPGA tournament in Texas was the Cavan golfer’s sixth top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour this season, which included a win in the Meijer Classic. Maguire has a short break before resuming play in the LPGA Maybank Championship later this month, as part of a closing season run-in that takes in Japan and two tournaments in Florida which includes the CME Group Tour Championship.

On this day: October 10th, 2004

Stephen Gallacher took his time to find the code to unlock a win on the European Tour, but his maiden win – in the Dunhill Links – came at one of his favourite places, the Old Course at St Andrews.

The Scot recently led Europe’s Junior Ryder Cup team to victory in Rome and, as it happened, left a number of Ryder Cup heroes in his wake en route to claiming his breakthrough win on tour.

Gallacher shot rounds of 70-66-66-67 for a total of 269, which had him tied with Graeme McDowell after the 72 holes of regulation with Ian Poulter and Luke Donald sharing third place.

Playing in his 188th tournament on the European circuit, Gallacher finally found a way to win with a birdie three at the first hole of sudden death to outduel G-Mac and earn a payday of €645,000: “I have been knocking on the door for some time. Everybody kept telling me that I was good enough but doing it and saying it are two different things,” said Gallacher.

X-Twitter Twaddle

Thank you @AscendantLPGA for a great (week), nice to finish off a hectic 3 week run with a top10 Time to recharge before Malaysia – Leona Maguire on rounding off a good few weeks’ work.

Is Carnoustie still there? – Bob MacIntyre’s tongue-in-cheek take on the heavy rainfall that caused such disruption to the Alfred Dunhill Links championship, with all three links – Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and the Old Course – flooded over the weekend.

Do I have any followers that are members of Malahide Golf Club that would be willing to help me out? Trying to get a junior membership for my 14 year old and need a proposer and seconder. Free tee time forecasts for anyone willing to take the chance on him – Meteorologist Joanna Donnelly looking for some help.

Know the Rules

Q A player makes a practice swing and accidentally moves her ball in play on the fairway with her club. What is the ruling? 1:- There is no penalty, but the movement of the ball counts as a stroke and the ball must be played as it lies. 2: The player gets one penalty stroke and must replace the ball. 3: There is no penalty but the player must replace the ball.

A The player gets a one stroke penalty and must replace the ball.

In the Bag

Luke List - Sanderson Farms Championship

Driver – Titleist TSR3 (9 degrees)

3-wood – TaylorMade Stealth Plus (15 degrees)

5-wood – TaylorMade Stealth 2 (18 degrees)

Irons – PXG 0311 ST Gen4 (4-PW)

Wedges – Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (50 and 54 degrees), Wedgeworks Proto (60 degrees)

Putter – Scotty Cameron FB+

Ball – Titleist ProV1