Sunday, June 24, 2018

Lexi Thompson, Ai Miyazato share lead at LPGA's first major

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — Lexi Thompson moved to the top of the ANA Inspiration leaderboard Friday, using length and strength to counter the thick rough.

"If you're going to hit it crooked out here, you might as well hit it far and crooked, so you have a shorter shot in," Thompson said. "But it's very thick. I had some really nasty lies out there."

Trying to win the LPGA Tour's major championship for the second time in three years, the 21-year-old American birdied the final hole for 4-under 68 and a share of the second-round lead with Ai Miyazato at 7-under 137 at Mission Hills.

Miyazato, also tied for the first-round lead, followed her opening 67 with 70. The 30-year-old Japanese player also finished with a birdie, hitting to 2 feet on the par-5 ninth.

Short off the tee and in stature at 5-foot-2, Miyazato is far more conservative than Thompson at tree-lined Mission Hills.

"I don't really want to be too aggressive on this golf course," Miyazato said. "You need to be really patient, and you need to be smart for the course management."

Top-ranked Lydia Ko (68) was another stroke back in the tour's first major of the year along with Suzann Pettersen (67), In Gee Chun (69), Lizette Salas (67), Sung Hyun Park (67) and Lee-Anne Pace (70).

Ko fought allergies that affected her vision. "I'm currently one-eye blind," she said.

Defending champion Brittany Lincicome of Seminole shot 69 and was in a group of five at 3 under.

Azahara Munoz, who shared the first-round lead with Miyazato, had 78 to drop to 1 over. With the cut at 2 over, she will play on the weekend.

PGA: Charley Hoffman had 2-under 70 for the clubhouse lead when the second round of the weather-delayed Houston Open was called because of darkness with 27 players on the course in Texas. Hoffman, the first-round leader, was one shot ahead of Jamie Lovemark (68).

Dustin Johnson, in the last group to finish the round before it was called, shot 71 and was in a group of 4 at 8 under. Jordan Spieth, who will try to defend his Masters title next week, struggled with his putting, had three bogeys on his back nine — the Golf Club of Houston course's front nine — and finished with 73 to sit in a large group at 4 under.

It's official: No Tiger at Masters: Tiger Woods, rehabilitating after three back surgeries, the most recent in November, said he decided it would be "prudent" to not play in the Masters after consulting with his medical team.

"I've been hitting balls and training daily, but I'm not physically ready," Woods said on his website. "I'm absolutely making progress, and I'm really happy with how far I've come, but I still have no timetable to return to competitive golf."

Woods said he will attend the Champions Dinner on Tuesday. This will be the second time he has missed the Masters as a pro. The other was 2014, also because of injury. The Masters begins Thursday.

Champions: The opening round of the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic was postponed until today because of heavy rain in Saucier. The second round was scheduled to begin after the first concludes.

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