Lexi Thompson finishes strong at CME, but her season's not over

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Lexi Thompson finishes strong at CME, but her season's not over

LPGA Tour

Lexi Thompson finishes strong at CME, but her season's not over

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Defending champion Lexi Thompson shot a final-round 68 to move up into a tie for sixth. She had five birdies after making a bogey on No. 3, and again looked more comfortable on the greens since switching back to the claw grip for the second round.

“It was a little shaky of a start, but I stayed strong,” she said. “(Caddie) Benji (Thompson) helped me out a lot out there with the struggle on the first few holes. Finished strong, so I’m very happy with my final round. I’ll be back here in two weeks. My season is not over.”

Thompson will be playing in the QBE Shootout, Greg Norman’s 12 two-person team event from Dec. 11-15 back at Tiburón, with Sean O’Hair. It will be the first time for the pairing. Thompson has played with Bryson DeChambeau once and Tony Finau the past two years.

“He has been pretty close with my brother,” she said. “He grew up with Nick and everything, so they’re close. I’ve met him once or twice, so not super close. He’s such a nice guy, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Henderson shines

Brooke Henderson had her best finish in the CME Group Tour Championship. The Canadian who has a residence at Miromar Lakes was solo fifth after a 5-under 67 to get to 15 under, three behind winner Sei Young Kim on Sunday.

“It was a good round,” Henderson said. “Got off to a pretty good start. Front nine things were looking good. Would’ve liked to get a few more on the back, but overall really happy. Really happy with how 2019 went. Looking forward to the offseason, hopefully get a little better, and be ready for 2020.”

Henderson said she will spend a couple of months in Southwest Florida before heading back to Canada.

“I’m actually going to be here quite a lot, basically like two months. I’m only going home for a couple weeks,” she said.

Henderson was 3 under at the turn, but parred the first six holes on the back. That included what could’ve been a great birdie after hitting out of bushes.

“My stance wasn’t very comfortable,” she said. “It was even hard because of the long grass. I guess the individual grasses were sticking out over my ball so I couldn’t even really get my club behind it, so I was like hovering it like this far above it.

“But was able to hit a great shot. Yeah, unfortunately didn’t convert the birdie, but I was happy to walk away with par there.”

Korda power

Nelly Korda may not have pulled out the win, but Korda and her sister Jessica finished tied for third and tied for sixth, respectively.

“Obviously for me Solheim Cup was a highlight of the year,” Jessica Korda said. “So much fun to be a part of playing. Obviously not the finish that we all wanted, but incredible for Suzann (Pettersen, who made the winning putt for Europe).”

Alex shakes off bad back

An achy back wasn’t going to keep Marina Alex from trying to turn in another strong finish. Alex shot a 5 under 67 to tie for 11th.

After shooting an opening-round 68 to be just three shots off the lead, Alex had to fight a sore back that hampered her start in the second round. She was 3 over after seven holes and considered withdrawing.

“I kind of got unlucky, just woke up Friday and it just wasn’t feeling good but it’s getting better now but (Saturday) and Friday was definitely a struggle,” Alex said. “It was good to finish good today and stick with it.”

But the 26-year old found her rhythm, playing her final 11 holes Friday in 5 under to card a 70. She still was feeling the effects of her back Saturday, but still made it to 9 under with three birdies in her first six holes. She came home with four bogeys and a bogey to stay at 6 under heading into Sunday.

Sunday, Alex turned at just 1 under for the day, but caught fire on the back nine with five birdies but gave a shot back at the 18th to finish her tournament at 11 under par.

Alex missed only one fairway the entire week.

Chip shots

CME Group chairman and CEO Terry Duffy spent a few minutes with Terry Gannon in the booth during the live NBC broadcast Sunday. Duffy reiterated his reasons for raising the purse to $5 million and the winner’s check to a record $1.5 million.

“We think it’s the right thing to do,” Duffy said. “Half of my management team is comprised of women. I’m very big into making sure everybody gets equal opportunities. … I thought to myself ‘What can we possibly do to make the winner comparable to a PGA Tour victory?’ I thought that was important for us to do.”

Part-time Naples resident Steve Stricker, a former winner at the QBE Shootout played at Tiburón Golf Club, was spotted in the gallery with his family. Stricker is a vice-captain for Tiger Woods for next month’s Presidents Cup.

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