Thompson goes low with new putter

Lexi Thompson made a bold move overhauling her putting going into the year's first Major, and it paid off with the American grabbing a share of the halfway lead at the ANA Inspiration on Friday.
Lexi Thompson made a bold move overhauling her putting going into the year's first Major, and it paid off with the American grabbing a share of the halfway lead at the ANA Inspiration on Friday. PHOTO: REUTERS

RANCHO MIRAGE (California) • Lexi Thompson's putter switch helped her surge up the leaderboard to grab a share of the lead at the halfway mark of golf's ANA Inspiration on Friday.

The American carded four birdies in her last seven holes, including three in a row from the 12th, to shoot a four-under 68 and jump to 137 for the tournament in the first women's Major of the year.

She joined overnight pace-setter Ai Miyazato atop the leaderboard at the Mission Hills Country Club after the Japanese former world No. 1 mixed five birdies and three bogeys on her way to a round of 70.

Thompson, who sat in a similar position in 2014 before going on to win the title, changed putters in the lead up to the tournament after a poor result in last week's Kia Classic. She capped her round on Friday with a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

"I started practising with it on Tuesday and putted with it for an hour-and-a-half a day to get comfortable with it, but honestly 20 minutes into it I knew it was good," said the 21-year-old. "Coming off last week, I needed a change."

The seven-time LPGA tour winner was particularly impressed with her finish in tough conditions.

"The rough is the highest I have ever seen it but that is what Majors call for, tight fairways, thick rough and firm greens," she said.

"I hit a few wayward shots but I recovered well and that's what you have to do at Majors."

Six players sit just one shot off the pace, including New Zealand's world No. 1 Lydia Ko (68).

American Lizette Salas (67), Norway's Suzann Pettersen (67), Koreans Park Sung Hyun (67) and Chun In Gee (69) and South African Lee-Anne Pace (70) also shared third place on a packed leader board with 19 players within three shots of the lead.

Chun, the reigning US Women's Open champion, is playing for the first time since she suffered a back injury last month. She was hurt when struck by a suitcase that was accidentally dropped down an escalator in Singapore and started hitting balls again only six days before the tournament.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 03, 2016, with the headline 'Thompson goes low with new putter'. Print Edition | Subscribe