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Jacksonville State comes back to win men's OVC title

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Here is a recap of the 2017 OVC Championship, which concluded Wednesday at RTJ at the Shoals in Muscle Shoals, Ala.:

FULL RESULTS: Team | Individual

TEAM CHAMPION: Jacksonville State (2-over 866). A great comeback from the Gamecocks. Starting the final round eight back of Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State posted a 1-over 289 – the round of the day by eight shots – to make up the entire deficit and post a one-shot win. The Gamecocks were actually in fourth to start the day, but this final-round surge earns them their first conference title since 2014 and their sixth overall. The Gamecocks await NCAA Regionals.

INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION: Bo Hayes, Jacksonville State and Hunter Richardson, Tennessee-Martin (4-under 212). Co-medalists were named at this event, although the pair boast different resumes. Hayes, a senior, earned his first career college title with this win. Richardson, meanwhile, is medalist at this very tournament for the second straight year, has five wins overall in his junior season and boasts eight for his college career. Neither player held the lead heading into the day. Hayes came from six behind with a closing 72 while Richardson came from five back with a 73.

QUOTABLE: “The only thing we could hope for is go out and put our number up and see if it was good enough.” – Jacksonville State Head Coach James Hobbs

CHIP SHOTS: The Gamecocks had a pretty even spread of players. There was the winner, another golfer in the top 5 (Daniel Pico, T-4 at even par) and the remaining three finished between 11th and 18th. … Tennessee Tech’s Charles Seals, the 36-hole leader, closes in 9-over 81 to move from four ahead to a tie for fourth at even par. His team fell with him, as Tennessee Tech dropped three spots to T-6 at 26 over after a 28-over 316 to close. … Murray State, on the other hand, moved up three spots to solo fifth thanks to a 9-over 297 to close. … Southern-Illinois Edwardsville drops a spot to third at 6 over total after a closing 11-over 299. The good news is the team secured that spot by 18 shots, as fourth-place Tennessee-Martin was at 24 over.

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UCLA, Lilia Vu dominate in victory at Pac-12 Women's Championship

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Here is a recap of the 2017 Pac-12 Championship, which concluded Wednesday at Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.:

FULL RESULTS: Team | Individual

TEAM CHAMPION: UCLA (2-under 862). Well, that’s a way to make a statement. The Bruins began the spring having to adjust from the mid-season loss of Bronte Law, the reigning winner of the ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M, as the Englishwoman turned pro. The first event post-Bronte produced a lowly 10th-place finish, but the team rebounded. A second followed at a UCLA home event and then consecutive wins before a runner-up showing at the Silverado Showdown. It all culminated, though, with this stunning performance, a 21-shot triumph at the Pac-12 Championship. The No. 6 Bruins led wire-to-wire and had the best round all three days. The team went into the final day with a seven-shot lead but increased it to a final total of 21 with a 1-under 287. This is the team’s fourth win of the season overall and its first Pac-12 title since 2006, which showed in head coach Carrie Forsyth’s emotional post-win address to her group.

Let it all go, @uclawomensgolf. When you capture your first #Pac12WGolf title in 11 years, tears of pride and joy are totally OK. pic.twitter.com/WR5taWZS6A

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) April 26, 2017

INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION: Lilia Vu, UCLA (7-under 209). Out goes one superstar, in steps another. Vu made waves as a freshman with a strong spring that boosted her to a final ranking of No. 3. But she had an up-and-down sophomore fall and had still never earned a college win heading into the Bruin Wave Invitational in late February. Oh, how things have changed since. Vu cruised to a six-shot victory Wednesday for her FOURTH consecutive win. Yes, fourth. Vu hasn’t stopped winning since capturing the Bruin Wave Invitational, and this one had to be extra special considering the tournament’s magnitude and the level of dominance. Vu, currently ranked seventh in the country this season, took control of this tournament with a 6-under 66 in Round 2 to open up a four-shot lead. A steady closing 72 (three birdies, three pars) was more than enough to seal this one.

QUOTABLE: “I’m so proud of you. … It’s just amazing what you’ve done with your games and your team chemistry, just playing as a team. … I’m so impressed.” – Forsyth, addressing her team after the win

CHIP SHOTS: The Bruins actually had the top two finishers, with freshman Mariel Galdiano placing second. Bethany Wu (T-11, 6 over) and Erin Choi (14th, 7 over) also placed in the top 15. … Colorado, ranked 26th, still finishes second despute a 13-over 301, tied for fourth-worst round of the day in the 11-team field, to finish. … No. 10 USC, the defending champion, couldn’t keep up with rival UCLA. The Trojans finished fifth at 30 over, 32 shots back, but did match UCLA with a closing 287 to tie the round of the day. USC actually finished sixth at the 2015 Pac-12 Championship and went on to win its NCAA Regional and the stroke-play portion at the NCAA Championship. … Stanford, the top-ranked team in the field at No. 3, places third at 20 over. Cardinal freshman Andrea Lee, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 2, finishes T-3 at 1 over. … The three players in the top 10 not named Vu and Lee finished as such: No. 4 Casey Danielson of Stanford (T-22, 12 over), No. 8 Haley Moore of Arizona (T-5, 3 over) and No. 10 Robynn Ree of USC (T-22, 12 over).

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Lexi Thompson understands ANA ruling, tries to put penalty behind her

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IRVING, Texas – Lexi Thompson addressed the media for the first time since the four-stroke spoiler at the ANA Inspiration on a stormy day in North Texas. The stately room in the clubhouse of Los Colinas Country Club was packed, but only a half dozen reporters were present. Twenty-four days after Thompson found herself in the center of a story so big it gained momentum during Masters week and seemingly caused golf’s governing bodies to fast-track and tweak a decision that was coming down the pike, the former teen prodigy finally sat down in front of cameras and print media to explain what happened on that 17th green.

But first, a 15-minute delay due to audio difficulties, to add to the suspense.

The opening question from the floor: Take us through the marking of the 1-foot putt.

Thompson began by explaining how upset she was about her birdie effort from 20 feet in the third round. Terrible stroke, she said.

She initially thought about tapping it in, but because her father, Scott, has fussed about the number of short putts she has missed over the years by moving too hastily – “I’ve stubbed a few” – Thompson decided to mark the ball.

“The way I mark my ball, I mark my ball with a dot, and that’s where I focus my eyes on where I want to make contact,” she said. “So when I went to mark it, I just rotated my ball to line up my dot to where my putter would make contact.”

Thompson didn’t watch the video before the playoff or directly after the round. But now that she has seen it, does she believe there was an infraction?

“Well, I mean, I have seen the video,” she said, “and I can see where they’re coming from with it.”

That’s as close as Thompson came to answering that question, which was asked twice. She went on to say that growing up, her two older brothers, Curtis and Nicholas, were always on her case about following the Rules of Golf.

“There’s no need for me to improve anything,” she said. “Those greens were absolutely perfect the whole week, and there was nothing in my line to be moving it from or anything. So I have no reason behind it. I did not mean it at all.”

Lexi Thompson gets emotional during her press conference on Wednesday in Texas. (Courtesy of LPGA)

When asked if she would do anything difficult going forward in terms of marking her ball, Thompson said, “I’m going to just continue marking my ball.”

Many LPGA players have used the words “loose” or “sloppy” to describe the manner in which Thompson marked her ball on the 17th green. Many felt that while likely unintentional, it was a clear violation.

What remains unclear is whether or not new Decision 34-3/10, effective immediately, would have exonerated the tour’s top American. Thompson said she hadn’t studied the rule too closely because she flew to the Zurich Classic on Tuesday after playing a practice round at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. She flew back on Wednesday in time for the press conference and nine-hole pro-am.

When it comes to video call-ins from fans, Thompson noted that golf is the only professional sport that allows it.

“Do I think it’s right? Not really,” she said. “But it’s not my say.”

In the middle of the 11-minute interview, Thompson broke down when asked what had been the most difficult part of the past few weeks. It took 44 seconds for Thompson to compose herself.

“Take your time,” agent Bobby Kreusler said from the side of the room.

Thompson, who won the 2014 ANA Inspiration, gathered herself and continued.

“I’ve worked my whole life to have my name on major championship trophies, especially that one,” she said. “It’s a very special week for me with all the history behind it, and you know, I played amazing that week. I don’t think I’ve played any better. Just for that to happen, it was just … it was kind of a nightmare.”

LPGA legend Nancy Lopez stood in her living room going “berserk” when Thompson’s four-stroke penalty came down. The polite Lopez doesn’t curse, but she had plenty to say to the TV that evening.

“I was like hyperventilating,” said Lopez, who immediately texted LPGA commissioner Mike Whan about her displeasure for viewer call-ins.

When it was over, Lopez texted Thompson, whom she captained in the 2009 Junior Solheim Cup.

“I told her that she was a great champion to handle it the way that she did,” said Lopez. “I wish I was there to give her a great big hug like a mother. I told her that she had a lot of tournaments ahead of her that she was going to win.”

Thompson, who received over a 100 text messages that day, replied: “I wish you were here too.”

Lopez was heartbroken.

Karrie Webb, a seven-time major champion who has watched Thompson come of age on the LPGA, called the 22-year-old’s performance and poise at the ANA “remarkable.”

“It really shows that she has grown up a lot in the last few years,” said Webb. “I don’t know, a couple years ago, if perhaps she would have handled it that way, at least how she played.”

The person closest to Thompson on what will surely become a significant day in golf history, was oddly enough a guy she’d known only three weeks. Kevin McAlpine quit a job selling kid’s golf equipment in Scotland to loop for the fifth-ranked player in the world.

When rules officials first approached Thompson walking off the 12th green Sunday at the ANA, McAlpine assumed it was a pace-of-play conversation. It wasn’t until Scott Thompson told him to get in there that he hustled up to hear the monster news.

McAlpine quickly tried to think back to the 17th green on Saturday, but could only recall the birdie putt.

“I didn’t see what happened,” he said, “so I couldn’t do anything. That was probably the worst part; I couldn’t do anything.”

A shocked Thompson began to cry on the 13th tee box. McAlpine doesn’t remember exactly what he said to help his player regain focus, but it was something like: “The only thing we can do is keep playing the way we’ve played. You’re the best player. You’ve played the best all week. There’s still a chance.”

When his boss made a remarkable birdie on No. 13, McAlpine felt a surge of adrenaline coarse through his body in a way he hadn’t felt in years.

“Deep down you’re a winner,” he told her. “You came here to win.”

Lexi Thompson walks with her caddie Kevin McAlpine following her loss in playoff to So Yeon Ryu during the final round of the ANA Inspiration. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Thompson would later tell McAlpine that the 5-iron she hit into the 18th green to 18 feet in regulation play was probably the best shot she’s ever hit.
The fairytale ending, of course, didn’t happen for the crowd favorite.

McAlpine, like many, stood in awe of Thompson as she signed autographs for an hour after the loss.

He went back to the house Thompson and her family had rented for the week in Rancho Mirage to have dinner.

When asked if they talked much in the aftermath, McAlpine said, “Not really. What do you say? What does anybody say? No words could really help her.”

Two days later, Thompson joined her brothers on the tee at 7:15 a.m. at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Fla. She poured her energy into the gym and practice, but sleep didn’t come easily.

She took it hard.

Thompson arrived in Texas on Monday evening and hit balls for an hour or so with McAlpine, who tried to keep the mood as lighthearted as possible.
The best medicine for Thompson to put what’s happened behind her: Get back in the hunt.

“This will just make her stronger,” said McAlpine. “I think it (already) has done (that).”

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Lexi Thompson faces media, 24 days after ANA penalty

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IRVING, Texas – Lexi Thompson addressed the media for the first time since the four-stroke spoiler at the ANA Inspiration on a stormy day in North Texas. The stately room in the clubhouse of Los Colinas Country Club was packed, but only a half dozen reporters were present. Twenty-four days after Thompson found herself in the center of a story so big it gained momentum during Masters week and seemingly caused golf’s governing bodies to fast-track and tweak a decision that was coming down the pike, the former teen prodigy finally sat down in front of cameras and print media to explain what happened on that 17th green.

But first, a 15-minute delay due to audio difficulties, to add to the suspense.

The opening question from the floor: Take us through the marking of the 1-foot putt.

Thompson began by explaining how upset she was about her birdie effort from 20 feet in the third round. Terrible stroke, she said.

She initially thought about tapping it in, but because her father, Scott, has fussed about the number of short putts she has missed over the years by moving too hastily – “I’ve stubbed a few” – Thompson decided to mark the ball.

“The way I mark my ball, I mark my ball with a dot, and that’s where I focus my eyes on where I want to make contact,” she said. “So when I went to mark it, I just rotated my ball to line up my dot to where my putter would make contact.”

Thompson didn’t watch the video before the playoff or directly after the round. But now that she has seen it, does she believe there was an infraction?

“Well, I mean, I have seen the video,” she said, “and I can see where they’re coming from with it.”

That’s as close as Thompson came to answering that question, which was asked twice. She went on to say that growing up, her two older brothers, Curtis and Nicholas, were always on her case about following the Rules of Golf.

“There’s no need for me to improve anything,” she said. “Those greens were absolutely perfect the whole week, and there was nothing in my line to be moving it from or anything. So I have no reason behind it. I did not mean it at all.”

Lexi Thompson gets emotional during her press conference on Wednesday in Texas. (Courtesy of LPGA)

When asked if she would do anything difficult going forward in terms of marking her ball, Thompson said, “I’m going to just continue marking my ball.”

Many LPGA players have used the words “loose” or “sloppy” to describe the manner in which Thompson marked her ball on the 17th green. Many felt that while likely unintentional, it was a clear violation.

What remains unclear is whether or not new Decision 34-3/10, effective immediately, would have exonerated the tour’s top American. Thompson said she hadn’t studied the rule too closely because she flew to the Zurich Classic on Tuesday after playing a practice round at the Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. She flew back on Wednesday in time for the press conference and nine-hole pro-am.

When it comes to video call-ins from fans, Thompson noted that golf is the only professional sport that allows it.

“Do I think it’s right? Not really,” she said. “But it’s not my say.”

In the middle of the 11-minute interview, Thompson broke down when asked what had been the most difficult part of the past few weeks. It took 44 seconds for Thompson to compose herself.

“Take your time,” agent Bobby Kreusler said from the side of the room.

Thompson, who won the 2014 ANA Inspiration, gathered herself and continued.

“I’ve worked my whole life to have my name on major championship trophies, especially that one,” she said. “It’s a very special week for me with all the history behind it, and you know, I played amazing that week. I don’t think I’ve played any better. Just for that to happen, it was just … it was kind of a nightmare.”

LPGA legend Nancy Lopez stood in her living room going “berserk” when Thompson’s four-stroke penalty came down. The polite Lopez doesn’t curse, but she had plenty to say to the TV that evening.

“I was like hyperventilating,” said Lopez, who immediately texted LPGA commissioner Mike Whan about her displeasure for viewer call-ins.

When it was over, Lopez texted Thompson, whom she captained in the 2009 Junior Solheim Cup.

“I told her that she was a great champion to handle it the way that she did,” said Lopez. “I wish I was there to give her a great big hug like a mother. I told her that she had a lot of tournaments ahead of her that she was going to win.”

Thompson, who received over a 100 text messages that day, replied: “I wish you were here too.”

Lopez was heartbroken.

Karrie Webb, a seven-time major champion who has watched Thompson come of age on the LPGA, called the 22-year-old’s performance and poise at the ANA “remarkable.”

“It really shows that she has grown up a lot in the last few years,” said Webb. “I don’t know, a couple years ago, if perhaps she would have handled it that way, at least how she played.”

The person closest to Thompson on what will surely become a significant day in golf history, was oddly enough a guy she’d known only three weeks. Kevin McAlpine quit a job selling kid’s golf equipment in Scotland to loop for the fifth-ranked player in the world.

When rules officials first approached Thompson walking off the 12th green Sunday at the ANA, McAlpine assumed it was a pace-of-play conversation. It wasn’t until Scott Thompson told him to get in there that he hustled up to hear the monster news.

McAlpine quickly tried to think back to the 17th green on Saturday, but could only recall the birdie putt.

“I didn’t see what happened,” he said, “so I couldn’t do anything. That was probably the worst part; I couldn’t do anything.”

A shocked Thompson began to cry on the 13th tee box. McAlpine doesn’t remember exactly what he said to help his player regain focus, but it was something like: “The only thing we can do is keep playing the way we’ve played. You’re the best player. You’ve played the best all week. There’s still a chance.”

When his boss made a remarkable birdie on No. 13, McAlpine felt a surge of adrenaline coarse through his body in a way he hadn’t felt in years.

“Deep down you’re a winner,” he told her. “You came here to win.”

Lexi Thompson walks with her caddie Kevin McAlpine following her loss in playoff to So Yeon Ryu during the final round of the ANA Inspiration. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Thompson would later tell McAlpine that the 5-iron she hit into the 18th green to 18 feet in regulation play was probably the best shot she’s ever hit.
The fairytale ending, of course, didn’t happen for the crowd favorite.

McAlpine, like many, stood in awe of Thompson as she signed autographs for an hour after the loss.

He went back to the house Thompson and her family had rented for the week in Rancho Mirage to have dinner.

When asked if they talked much in the aftermath, McAlpine said, “Not really. What do you say? What does anybody say? No words could really help her.”

Two days later, Thompson joined her brothers on the tee at 7:15 a.m. at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Fla. She poured her energy into the gym and practice, but sleep didn’t come easily.

She took it hard.

Thompson arrived in Texas on Monday evening and hit balls for an hour or so with McAlpine, who tried to keep the mood as lighthearted as possible.
The best medicine for Thompson to put what’s happened behind her: Get back in the hunt.

“This will just make her stronger,” said McAlpine. “I think it (already) has done (that).”

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Texas-El Paso tops Charlotte for C-USA men's crown

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Here is a recap of the 2017 Conference USA Championship at Texarkana (Ark.) Country Club, which concluded Tuesday:

STROKE-PLAY RESULTS: Team | Individual

TEAM CHAMPION: Texas-El Paso not only finished first in stroke play by four shots over North Texas, the Miners also won both our their matches, 4-1 over Southern Miss and 4-1 over Charlotte, to win their first conference title since 1984. UTEP will also advance to regionals for the first time since 2004.

INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION: Charlotte’s Seth Gandy won medalist honors at 2-under 214, a total that included a final-round, 4-over 76. He won by two shots over UAB’s Taylor Eyster and North Texas’ Cory Churchman.

QUOTABLE: “I feel like we have got a lot of grown men. They act mature, I think they play the game the right way and I think they act the right way, which is something that we want from our program. I couldn’t be any prouder than I am right now.” – UTEP head coach Scott Lieberwirth

CHIP SHOTS: Charlotte advanced to the final match after finishing third in stroke play and then beating North Texas, 3-0-2. … At No. 65 in Golfstat’s rankings, North Texas should get into a regional, but it will be close as the magic number is currently around 68. … Middle Tennessee State tied for fourth and missed out on match play, but at No. 51 in the country, it will make a regional. … Charlotte is likely out, but not by much as the 49ers are No. 73 in the nation.

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Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose close as silver and gold at PGA Tour Zurich Classic

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NEW ORLEANS, La. – There are 80 teams assembled here at the PGA Tour’s new-look Zurich Classic of New Orleans, including Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose.

There are old college roommates playing together, former college teammates pairing up, countrymen joining forces, even a pair of brothers (Brooks and Chase Koepka) formulating a team. There are a few tandems who don’t even know each other all that well, but they will try in earnest to figure it out at breezy TPC New Orleans in the days ahead, where each winning team member will receive a trophy, a seven-figure payday and a two-year exemption.

Where do Stenson and Rose fit in? They are two heavy medal rockers. Few teams, if any, are as tried and tested as this one. They have performed shoulder to shoulder in the most intense heat, helping to deliver a Ryder Cup to Europe as partners at Scotland’s Gleneagles in the autumn of 2014. They once resided just 50 yards apart in the gated Lake Nona community of Orlando. Their kids play together. Their caddies and wives are friendly.

And side by side, the two are so comfortable that they could deliver an Abbott & Costello act, complete with timely rimshots.

So, who was it who stepped forward to ask the other to be his partner at the Zurich this week?

“It was Justin,” offered Stenson. “He just can’t live without me.”

Justin Rose-Olympics-Zurich Open-PGA Tour

Justin Rose closed with birdie and 67 to win the 2016 gold medal in golf at the Olympics. (Getty Images)

They are the only twosome in the field that brought Olympic medals with them to New Orleans this week. Rose, the Englishman who nearly walked away with the Masters earlier this month, forgot his gold medal in his hotel room Wednesday morning, unfortunately. So Stenson, seated next to him, refused to remove his silver medal from his pocket.

Stenson: “I’m not going to show off a silver when there is no gold around.”

Rose: “Actually, now IS the time to show off a silver, when there’s no gold around.”

Ba-dum-pum. But all jokes aside, these two cannot help but be a most formidable pair when the tournament begins on Thursday morning with the tougher of the two formats being used, foursomes, or alternate-shot.

“Yeah, that’s going to be interesting to see Rose and Stenson play, only because they’ve played in the Ryder Cups together,” said Jason Day, who landed a pretty nice partner himself in Rickie Fowler. “They know how each other’s games work.”

The foursomes, or alternate-shot format, can quickly expose the true chemistry of a team, unlike a better-ball format, when each player can put his head down like any other afternoon on Tour and simply see how many birdies he can pile up on his own.

At Gleneagles in 2014, Europe rolled to its third consecutive Ryder Cup title (and sixth in seven matches), largely in part to the dominant team showing of Rose and Stenson. The two were ranked fifth and sixth in the world at the time, and aligned they formed an unbeatable beast.

Henrik Stenson-PGA-Ryder Cup-Zurich Open

Henrik Stenson played a major role in Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup victory at Gleneagles in Scotland. (Getty Images)

Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson made nine birdies against them in that Day 2 four-ball match, and never even made it to the 17th tee. Rose and Stenson had gone on an amazing run in which they birdied 10 consecutive holes, winning 3 and 2.

”It’s hard to reflect on it when you’re playing,” Stenson would say that afternoon, “but 21 birdies in 16 holes between us, that’s something special. It might be a highlight to put on the big screen with the grandkids one day.”

Rose had paired previously with Ian Poulter, and Stenson had played alongside five different partners in his first two matches, in 2006 and 2008. European captain Paul McGinley, a true mastermind, had an airtight plan when he put the two together.

“The feedback I got from Paul,” Rose said Wednesday, “was that he really felt I would be at my best standing alongside another really great player. You know, he just felt that that was the way I was going to bring out my best … I don’t know how he gauged that.”

Rose, 37, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, was in terrific form in Augusta at the Masters earlier this month, earning a spot in a playoff alongside eventual champion Sergio Garcia. He retreated to his place in the Bahamas after the tournament, briefly shaken by such a close call, realizing at one point along that back nine on Sunday, the tournament was in his grip.

Justin Rose believes he let an opportunity to win the Masters slip away earlier this month. (Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports)

“It’s an opportunity that I feel like … certainly one that got away,” Rose said. “I felt it was mine at points on the back nine. But really, I sleep well every night. I’m absolutely fine. I feel like Augusta is the one major where the fact that we go back there year on year, you can build on that performance, and you can build on that experience.”

Stenson, who turned 41 this month, is coming off the second-best year of his career, one that delivered his first major title, the Open Championship at Royal Troon, where his Sunday duel with Phil Mickelson – Stenson shot 63 to Mickelson’s 65 – shined as the best golf of the entire season, a modern-day Duel in the Sun.

The 2016-17 season, after a second-second start in China and at the Hero World Challenge, has been a frustrating struggle for Stenson, and he’s hoping that pairing alongside his good Ryder Cup buddy can help shake him from his funk. He has not made it to the weekend in four of his last five starts, withdrawing from WGC-Mexico in Round 1 (illness) and missing the cut in each of his last three starts (including the Masters).

“It’s really been the long game, which is kind of the foundation of my game,” Stenson said. Poor play has led him to go into “practice” mode, and when he does that, he said he loses interest in competing.

“It hasn’t been super-bad, but it hasn’t been great, either,” Stenson said. “When I go into more ‘practice’ mode, then I lose the interest of performing, which it’s kind of been the last month. . . . It goes more into trying to fix, solve, analyze, that stuff, and my mind is not on fighting it out. So it kind of effects the mindset a little bit for tournaments. In that respect, I think this could be a really good week for me. I’m not just playing for myself now.”

Henrik Stenson (silver), Justin Rose (gold), Matt Kuchar (bronze) show off their medals at the 2016 Olympics.

Henrik Stenson (silver), Justin Rose (gold), Matt Kuchar (bronze) show off their medals at the 2016 Olympics. (Getty Images)

He is not, and familiarity will be a key ingredient on Thursday when strong wind gusts are expected to whip across TPC Louisiana, assuring that any score in the red in the alternate-shot format will represent a quality round. In good play or bad, Stenson and Rose should weather the day quite well.

The players were asked, Is the relationship spiritual?

“I don’t know where we’re headed with this,” Stenson said, smiling. “Maybe on Sunday.”

“For me,” added Rose, “the most important thing on the golf course is not feeling to burden to say you’re sorry if you hit a poor shot, to know that we’ve both given 100 percent, to know that we’ve got each other’s back.”

That they do. And this marks one team amid a pool of lesser-tested ones that already has showed us as much.

America has the scars to prove it.

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Texas edges Oklahoma State to continue Big 12 Championship win streak

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Here is a recap of the 2017 Big 12 Championship at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., which concluded Wednesday:

FULL RESULTS: Team | Individual

TEAM CHAMPION: Texas and Oklahoma State were tied after 54 holes, but it was the Cowboys who took a six-shot lead at one point in Wednesday’s final round. But Texas rallied, its counting scorers for the final round combining to shoot 5 under on Prairie Dunes’ final two holes, and the Longhorns finished at 48-over 1,168, a shot better than the Cowboys, ranked fifth by Golfweek. Juniors Scottie Scheffler and Doug Ghim tied for second at 8 over for the 14th-ranked Longhorns. Scheffler, who had a chance to win the medal but closed with a 73, made the Big 12 title-clinching putt on the 18th green. UCLA transfer Spencer Soosman and sophomore Steven Chervony each contributed 68s at some point during the championship. The victory marks Texas’ fifth straight Big 12 title, and also the team’s first win of this spring.

INDIVIDUAL CHAMPION: Kansas senior Chase Hanna birdied four of his final six holes, and after a closing bogey by Scheffler, Hanna captured medalist honors by a shot at 7 over. Hanna, who followed a first-round 78 with rounds of 69-70-70, is Kansas’ first conference medalist since Slade Adams tied for first at the 1995 Big 8 Championship. Hanna is also the first outright conference medalist for Kansas since Matt Gogel won the 1991 Big 8 title.

QUOTABLES: “We suddenly have some great chemistry on our team. It has been a build all year long, we have had some incredible things happen and some things the guys have had to overcome. After losing Beau Hossler last year and revamping this team, these guys have had to assume a lot of pressure because we have won four Big 12s in a row. So to come in here to Prairie Dunes, a great golf course, incredible circumstances and difficult conditions, I’m really, really proud of our guys.” – Texas head coach John Fields

“It was a fun day. I played solid golf. My big goal was just to not post a double bogey because that is what has killed me the last couple of days. It is a tournament that we always look forward to every year and to come out on top is pretty fun.” – Hanna

CHIP SHOTS: Why were the scores so high? The culprit was wind. Sustained winds hovered above 20 mph for much of the week and gusts topped 40 mph at times. … Kansas’ third-place finish is its best finish at Big 12s since 2000. … Zach Bauchou (fourth) and Viktor Hovland (T-6) were the two Oklahoma State players in the top 10. Hovland is just a freshman. … Oklahoma sophomore Brad Dalke, in his first start since the Masters, was tied for the 54-hole lead before a closing 80. Still, Dalke tied for ninth. … In addition to Texas, which earns the Big 12’s automatic NCAA regional bid, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas and Texas Tech all will make regionals. Iowa State, ranked 48th by Golfstat entering Big 12s, could make it, assuming the Cyclones don’t drop outside the magic number (55 right now) after a ninth-place showing at Prairie Dunes.

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Callaway Customs offers personalized drivers, wedges, balls

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Maybe green is not your color? Starting today, when it comes to buying a Callaway GBB Epic or GBB Epic Sub Zero driver – both of which come standard with green trim – that is no longer a problem. The company is re-launching Callaway Customs, a service that allows golfers to personalize their gear.

Originally, Callaway Customs let players add stamping and colorful paint fill on MD3 wedges, but now players can personalize Epic drivers as well as MD3 and Mack Daddy Forged wedges and buy personalized golf balls (Chrome Soft, Supersoft, Superhot and Warbird).

With the drivers, which each cost $550, golfers can to chose from eight colors and add them to two zones: the starburst-shaped area on the sole and the rail that encircles the back of the head.

Callaway Customs wedges

Callaway Customs wedges.

Wedges can be customized with paint fill colors to seven areas, including the four weight ports behind the face and on the toe near the loft number. Players also can add either three- or 10-character stamping, or scattered stamping, to the back of the head. Customization adds $15-$45 to each wedge’s standard price.

Golf balls can be customized by adding up to three lines of type with as many as 20 characters per line, with any number on the ball between 00 and 99. They range in price from $17.99 to $39.99 per dozen.

Customized products can be created and purchased at

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Tom Gillis calls out Ben Crane over alleged unpaid (for now) $6,000 bet

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Wagering plays a large role in golf. Just ask Michael Jordan.

So when a betting situation goes wrong involving a player on the PGA Tour – where the amount of money wagered can get quite high – matters aren’t going to be too civil.

Tom Gillis, a 48-year-old with 188 PGA Tour starts under his belt, took issue publicly Tuesday with Ben Crane, accusing the five-time PGA Tour winner of not paying out on a $6,000 bet.

Gillis’ public comment came via Twitter, and the message also included a snipe at Crane’s reputation for slow play.

@bencranegolf Not only do u STEAL players time on the course now your not paying off your bets. 6k on putting green. Minister wld b proud

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 25, 2017

Gillis certainly isn’t mincing words. Gillis did clarify his claims, though, stating that he wasn’t the one owed the money.

Just that. Lost 6k on putting green at Phoenix to my friend and won’t pay. https://t.co/61R56g35Ob

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

That’s not the end of this, though. Gillis, naturally, got some comments on this one, and he posted several responses that either specified the alleged situation further, displayed his frustration or brought humor.

Highly doubt that’s gonna happen. https://t.co/AHPL4uICAW

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

Not much of a story. One dude lost 6k and won’t pay. He thinks he should get to play PING PONG to even it up. What’s next a big wheel race? https://t.co/xpxXX9wwaM

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

45 minute putting contest https://t.co/SckLqUkVaU

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

Can’t understand why my followers is going up. Hmmmm

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

Sorry. Once he gets his cash I’ll tell ya. https://t.co/422CJX5yOz

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

No this is a person I’ve known since he was 14 who confided in me as to what to do. This was 2.5 months ago he lost. Accountability 😪https://t.co/CF8I1RCtz3

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

He won’t https://t.co/4H5cdK4GM9

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

I just did handle it. https://t.co/59x2HsCdas

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

Gillis is a man of his word. It appears he did handle this alleged situation, as he noted this afternoon that it looks like Crane has gotten the message and will indeed pay up.

Because he wouldn’t pay and was asked several times. Now he’s paying tomorrow 👏👏👏https://t.co/GPPXKYIlmm

— Tom Gillis (@tcgillis) April 26, 2017

Let’s be clear: These are Gillis’ words. There’s been no commentary from Crane on the situation. At this point, it’s Gillis alleging that Crane is not paying out, but it is just that: An allegation. There’s no true confirmation on this story yet.

Even with that, we’ll see if that supposed conclusion does indeed arrive Thursday. For now, though, Gillis has made one thing especially clear: If he thinks you messed with one of his friends, you’ll hear about it.

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Lexi Thompson speaks to media for first time since ANA Inspiration

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Lexi Thompson addressed the media Wednesday for the first time since the ANA Inspiration, where she was the subject of a controversial ruling by the LPGA during the final round.

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