sGOLF roundup


PGA

Justin Thomas closes in on number one

AUSTIN, TEXAS

Justin Thomas was on antibiotics when he arrived in Texas and mustered enough strength for a short practice round that left him wondering how long he would last in the Dell Technologies Match Play, if at all.

“I had a pretty serious conversation with my Dad on Monday if I was going to play,” Thomas said. “There were probably 15 or so people that watched me play nine holes. You find those 15 people and see if they thought I was ready to play in a golf tournament. Some of the shots I hit were pretty funny.”

His health improved. So has his golf.

And now Thomas is one match away from reaching No. 1 in the world and having a shot at his first World Golf Championships title.

Thomas made quick work of Si Woo Kim to win on the 13th hole Saturday morning, and then he pulled away from Kyle Stanley in the afternoon by winning three straight holes to start the back nine that carried him to a 2-and-1 victory.

Now he has a clear path — and a familiar one for Bubba Watson — to replace Dustin Johnson at No. 1 in the world.

Johnson didn’t win a match this week and will not get any world ranking points. That means Thomas only has to beat Watson in the semifinals this morning to become the seventh American to top the world ranking.

LPGA

Kerr blows big lead

CARLSBAD, CALIF.

Cristie Kerr blew a five-stroke lead Saturday in the Kia Classic to set up a final-round showdown at Aviara Golf Club.

A day after shooting an 8-under 64 to open the big lead, Kerr had a 75 to drop a stroke behind playing partner Lizette Salas, Eun-Hee Ji and In-Kyung Kim. Kerr was tied with Caroline Hedwall, Wei-Ling Hsu and Cindy LaCrosse, and four players were another shot back.

The 40-year-old Kerr had a double bogey on the par-4 15th after snap-hooking a drive into the trees. The 2015 winner at Aviara, she had a two-putt birdie on the short par-4 16th and a bogey on the par-4 18th.

Ji had a 67 to match Salas (69) and Kim (69) at 11-under 205. Anna Nordqvist had a 66 to top the group at 9 under.

CHAMPIONS

Stricker positioned for another win

BILOXI, MISS.

Steve Stricker moved into position for his second straight PGA Tour Champions victory, shooting a 3-under 69 in gusting wind Saturday to take a one-stroke lead in the Rapiscan Systems Classic. Stricker won the Cologuard Classic three weeks ago in Tucson, Arizona, for his first victory on the 50-and-over tour. He tied for 12th the following week in the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship.

Stricker had a 7-under 137 total at Fallen Oak, the Tom Fazio-designed layout with big, speedy greens. First-round leader Joe Durant followed his opening 66 with a 72 to drop into a tie for second with Jeff Sluman (67). Stephen Ames (68) and Billy Andrade (70) were 5 under.

Associated Press

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