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Lexi Thompson’s behavior following Women’s PGA defeat sparks fierce debate

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Lexi Thompson has had one hell of a golf career.

At 12 years old, she became the youngest ever woman to take part in the US Women’s Open, and at 16 she became the then youngest ever winner of an LPGA tournament.

With the golfing world at her feet, the star junior player won six events by the end of 2016, including her first major – the Kraft Nabisco in 2014 – and looked set for superstardom.

It hasn’t all gone to plan, though, with the pain continuing into last night’s final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship when, after leading by two shots, she finished with two bogeys and a par to lose by a shot to In Gee Chun, another who had let a lead slip through Sunday’s tense final 18.

Majors have proven a tough gig for 27-year-old Thompson.

Lexi led the 2017 running of the first major of the season, the ANA Inspiration, into the back nine, before being notified of a four-shot penalty for misplacing her ball on the 17th hole of her third round – two shots for putting the ball back in the wrong place, and two for incorrectly signing her scorecard – all via notification from a television viewer.

In tears, the former World Number One fought back to birdie the final hole, finally losing a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the only time Lexi has found things conspire against her at the wrong time.

During the 2021 season, she blew a five-shot lead the down the stretch of the US Women’s Open with a series of errors, whilst in November of the same year, she lost her third playoff of the year when failing to capitalize on yet another lead, this time at the Women’s Pelican Championship.

Shrugging that off by saying she is working on all aspects of the game and feels good, Sunday the 26th of June will surely not be a day she will want to keep in the memory banks.

As mentioned, after In Gee had played nervously throughout the opening holes, Lexi found herself in front going down the stretch and hot favorite to finally lift her overdue second major.

Winning is hard, golf is hard, and it just didn’t happen. Again.

If losing (yes, that’s sadly the right word) wasn’t enough, Lexi was then fined $2000 for slow play after her round.

Lexi, perhaps unsurprisingly, refused to talk to the media after coming off the course and, naturally, social media has had a field day with both instances.

Justin Thomas took to Twitter to plead: “I’m all for helping slow play, but putting those ladies on the clock with 2 holes left trying to win a major seems like a good read the room situation and don’t put them on the clock.”

Zephyr Melton of Golf.com was tweeting the main twists and turns of last night’s final round and noted Lexi’s refusal to speak to the media as “not a good look.”

Whilst he admitted that she did come out and sign hundreds of autographs after, the replies to the initial tweet were many and varied.

The majority called for the media to “give her space”, whilst a good few gave the comparison to Naomi Osaka, the number one tennis player who refused to speak to the media at the French Open before being told she would face expulsion if not doing so.

Back then, Osaka said she had witnessed players breaking down after questioning by the press, and called for prioritizing the player’s mental health.

The question must be, is a player obligated to talk to the media covering an event?

According to one respondent:

It’s called being a professional and facing the music when you choked away a major championship (again, I might add). You owe it to the people who supported you & the entire country! Osaka and her have a lot to be ashamed of. You would never see this happen w/ Billy Jean King!”

While another countered, saying:

“The media overestimates how much people really want to hear what athletes have to say following devastating losses. I’d rather give them their privacy and let them talk after they’ve had time to process.”

Did she choke? Unquestionably.

Does she need to be questioned about it just minutes after doing so, not that long after throwing away a couple of similar chances and answering it all back then?

Leave that to you, GolfWRX readers.

*Photo courtesy of @TheAmyRodgers

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Rickie Fowler says he’ll talk more with Butch Harmon after firing swing coach John Tillery

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Rickie Fowler’s slide down the rankings has reached the point where the 33-year-old is ripping up the playbook.

Last month, Fowler split with longtime caddie Joe Skovron, and as first reported by ESPN, the Californian has now ditched his swing coach John Tillery.

The two men had been working together for more than three years, and speaking to GolfWeek’s Adam Schupak, Fowler explained how the working relationship “never really clicked.”

“I couldn’t love the guy any more, and we gave it a good run but it was almost like speaking another language in a way and it never really clicked.

He’s had plenty of success with his guys and I wish I would have played significantly better. I’ll take a lot out of the time we spent together. It’s not like the last few years were for nothing. I gained a lot of knowledge and I feel like I’m in a very good spot.”

Throughout his struggles, Fowler has been linked with a return to former coach Butch Harmon, and the two spent time with each other before the CJ Cup last October, where he finished T3. Speaking to GolfWeek, Fowler confirmed that he’d be having more communication with his former mentor going forward.

“That was like a stamp of approval from someone who has helped in some of my best years of my career,” said Fowler speaking on Harmon’s contribution that week. “I’m planning to have more communication with him this fall, but not committing or going anywhere outside of that right now.”

Per the publication, Rickie will visit Butch next week in preparation for the Shriners in Las Vegas and will have veteran looper Ricky Romano caddying for him.

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Golf balls dating back to 1840 create bidding war at auction

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Enthusiasts will pay for the chance to own and collect part of their love, and golf die-hards are no different.

Earlier this year, GolfWRX reported on an auction of clubs used at the ‘Tiger Slam’ and, at the end of August, Golf Digest covered the sale of “some of the rarest, most valuable and historic balls ever produced.”

So said golf historian Jeff Ellis about the auction of over 75 antique golf balls, in a bidding war open to anyone until September 17th.

Listed as part of the Desert Mountain Collection, notable collector and auctioneer Ellis told Golf Digest, “I’ve not seen a collection of historic golf balls like this come out to the market in one shot in a long time,” and with seven of the series already shooting past the $1000 opening bid, the publicity is sure to keep the price moving in one direction.

Currently, number one in the bidding is Lot #11, the ‘Globe Map of the World Ball’ from 1908. Listed as, “made as a miniature globe, complete with labeled continents, oceans, and a few other places such as the North Pole, New Zealand, Britain, and Japan.” Indeed, “when this ball was introduced by J. P. Cochrane in 1908, it was so creative that it was immediately seen as destined for museums.”

As I write, Lot #11 is at $5053, whilst just behind are Lot #3 and Lot #1, both illustrating the work and bearing the names of their legendary makers – Allan Robertson and Tom Morris.

The Robertson ‘Featherball’ dates from circa 1840, and has never been used, still bearing the maker’s stamp and reference number – 29 – the weight and size.

Ellis told the publication that, “To find a mint ball like this is a real treasure,” before adding that the owner “just had an appreciation of the game of golf and its equipment as it was played early in the 19th century and before.”

At just under $3800, Lot #1 may seem a relative bargain, especially given the circumstances in which it came into production.

The auction site state that, “After years of working with Allan Robertson and perfecting the intricate art of making feather balls, he [Morris] successfully navigated their eventual demise by embracing the gutta-percha ball in both work and play.”

The ball is hand-hammered with details from the pen of Morris himself and, “all things considered, this ball is dripping with history, in outstanding original condition with the name stamp clearly visible, and would be a cornerstone addition to any golf collection anywhere in the world. No name from the 19th century is bigger than that of Old Tom Morris, and Morris-stamped balls are far more rare than Morris-stamped clubs.”

Ellis added a human side to the obvious sales pitch.

“It’s dang rare,” he said. “Its imperfections are authentic. The imperfections are what makes it real. What’s remarkable about this ball is its condition. You can find others that might have that T.MORRIS stamping but some of the letters are missing. The character of the ball, everything about it, has great age.”To put the lot into context with its  market rival, Ellis explained:

“There are a lot more Allan Robertson feather balls out there than there are Tom Morris hand-hammered gutta percha balls. So that is going to be the defining motivation for the bids, its rarity.”

There is plenty more on offer, from putters to medals, from irons to tees, and currently there are 25 lots without a bid.

Get along to Jeff Ellis Auctions to grab yourself a piece of golf history.

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Judge delivers split ruling on unsealing LIV contract details

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More golf news has emerged from the courtroom recently, as Judge Beth L. Freeman split her ruling on a motion to seal LIV Golf’s contracts.

The antitrust lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court Northern District of California and includes seven LIV golfers: Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Ian Poulter and Peter Uihelin.

The PGA TOUR’s attorney argued that there are certain aspects of LIV Golf contracts that should not be sealed. Those aspects include social media use, player apparel, playing commitments and potential fines. The TOUR is arguing all of these factors are “highly relevant” to the antitrust suit.

Judge Freeman was in agreement with the TOUR and decided that those “highly relevant” details of the contract be revealed.

However, Freeman also sided with LIV Golf in determining that some of the contract must remain sealed, including confidential business and financial information.

The next phase of the case is set to take place on September 15th.

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