8am Round-Up: Lexi Thompson ‘did not mean’ to mismark her ball

An emotional Lexi Thompson spoke about what happened to her in the ANA Inspiration during a press conference ahead of this week's LPGA event in Texas. Picture: AP
An emotional Lexi Thompson spoke about what happened to her in the ANA Inspiration during a press conference ahead of this week's LPGA event in Texas. Picture: AP
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Lexi Thompson has described what happened to her in the opening women’s major of the season as a “nighmare” but is adamant that she didn’t intentionally break golf’s rules.

The American lost out in her bid to win the ANA Inspiration in California earlier this month after being reported by a TV viewer for wrongly marking her golf ball in the third round.

Thompson was hit with a two-shot penalty for that infringement and a further two shots for signing for a wrong scorecard.

The 22-year-old spoke about the incident for the first time since losing a play-off as she prepared for this week’s LPGA event in Texas.

“That’s one of my favourite tournaments, and it’s always a dream of mine to just see myself jumping into Poppie’s Pond,’ she said.

“I played amazing that week. I don’t think I’ve ever played better, and just for that to happen it was just, it was kind of a nightmare.

“I have seen the video and I can see where they’re coming from with it. It might have been, I guess, me rotating the ball. I have always played by the Rules of Golf. ... I did not mean it at all.

“I got up to it and thought about tapping it in, but I was pretty mad after my first putt because I put a terrible stroke on it.

“My dad always told me I’ve missed a lot of putts by just going up and tapping them in. I’ve stubbed a few, done all that.

“I was just like. ‘Lexi, just relax, mark the putt, it’s a major championship, you don’t need to go up and miss this little putt’.”

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A support package for young Scottish professionals to help ease the transition from amateur to professional isn’t a “golden egg that everyone will get”.

That was the message delivered by the four partners involved in the new initiative, which was launched yesterday at Edinburgh Castle.

Aberdeen Asset Management, SSE Scottish Hydro and Bounce Sports Management are joining forces with Scottish Golf, the governing body, to help the country’s most promising players fulfil their potential.

Grant Forrest and Ewen Ferguson, two members of a winning Walker Cup side in 2015 and both in their rookie seasons as pros, are the first players to benefit from the support.

They played in some Challenge Tour events last season while still amateurs to help prepare them for joining the paid ranks.

The same opportunity will be offered to the current leading amateurs in Scotland and, depending on how they perform in 2017, the new support package will be open to them as well.

Players worthy of selection will be put forward by Scottish Golf’s performance committee, though the final decision on how gets support will be a joint one involving all four stakeholders.

“This isn’t a golden egg that everyone will get,” said Stephen Docherty, Aberdeen Asset Management’s head of global equities.

“It’s to be earned as an amateur to then progress and there could be years when no-one gets it.

“It depends on what Grant and Ewen do also, not to put pressure on them, but if they do really well, then it’s great.”

The iniative is in addition to Team Scottish Hydro, which has supported a whole host of players since 2011, helping the likes of Craig Lee and Chris Doak enjoy spells on the European Tour.

This season’s Team Scottish Hydro will be announced shortly and will again include a couple of Scots on the Ladies European Tour.

Asked if women could also benefit from the new initative in the future, Iain Stoddart, founding partner of Bounce Sports Management and the driving force behind the initative, said it wasn’t as straightforward as it might seem.

“This initiative is a sort of umbilical cord. Once the player gets to the main tour, you can cut that cord, introduce new sponsors and all that,” he said.

“The dynamics of the ladies’ game is different. The reality is you can’t let them go even when they reach top 30 of the LET, they’re stil barely covering their costs.

“The equivalent in the guys’ game is a million euro and you can let them go with confidence. “The pathway is not the same and there’s not an obvious as solution as there is with the men’s.”

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Stephen Gallacher and Richie Ramsay both opened with par-breaking efforts but were still left trailing in Alexander Levy’s wake in the first round of the Volvo China Open in Beijing.

As the Scottish duo carded matching one-under 71s, Frenchman Levy stormed to a nine-under 63 to set a hot pace at Topwin Golf & Country Club.

Levy, the 2014 winner, carded a flawless effort that contained nine birdies to nudge ahead of Pablo Larrazabal after the Spaniard had set the early clubhouse lead with another bogey-free effort.

Gallacher, who secured a sponsor’s invitation for the event, signed for four birdies and three bogeys, as did Ramsay.

David Drysdale, the third Scot in the line-up, was due out first in the afternoon wave.

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Dunbar’s Neil Fenwick has the leader in his sights heading into today’s second round of the PGA EuroPro Tour’s Lookers Championship at Close House.

It followed Fenwick opening the new season on the third-tier circuit with a three-under-par 68 at the venue for the British Masters later this year.

After signing for an eagle and five birdies, the Edinburgh man is sitting joint-third, two shots behind pacesetter Matt Mumford from Wrag Barn.

Backing up Fenwick are Jordan McColl (Kingsbarns Links) and Ryan Campbell (Golf in Scotland) after they posted matching 69s.

Jamie McLeary, winner of the circuit’s Qualifying School earlier in the month, opened with a disappointing 75.

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Paul O’Hara made an ideal start to his career as a fully-qualified PGA pro by winning the Scottish qualifier for this year’s Titleist & FootJoy PGA Professional Championship.

The former amateur star, who is attached to North Lanarkshire Leisure Ltd, booked his ticket to Ireland, where the £78,000 final takes place at Luttrellstown Castle in June, in style.

He shot a splendid three-under 68 at Ladybank to finish three shots clear of the field as a total of nine players qualified for the event near Dublin.

Kilmacolm’s Michael Patterson finished second while the other qualifiers included Fraser Mann (Carnoustie Golf Links).

Others to pass the test were Alan Welsh (Cathkin Braes), Jonathan Sharp (Carrick on Loch Lomond), Ross Harrower (Boat of Garten), Jonnie Cliff (Murrayfield), Andrew Cooper (Newmachar), Chris Currie (Caldwell) and Scott Wilson (St Andrews Links Golf Academy).

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Australian Peter Stojanovski came from five shots behind heading into the final round to win the MENA Tour’s Ras Al Khaimah Classic.

As overnight leader Paul Dwyer crashed to a nightmare 82 to slip outside the top 20, Stojanovski surged to victory on the back of a closing 66 at Tower Links Golf Club.

Finishing with a 13-under-par total, he won by three shots from English pair Andrew Marshall and Jamie Elson.

Jack Doherty (75) finished top Scot in joint-31st on one-under, a shot ahead of Clarke Lutton (74).