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Sep 08

Ko, Thompson in Brickyard Showdown

Two (Three) Young Greats Duel for Indy Women in Tech, Sunday at the Brickyard

There are a lot of interesting and odd things going on with the LPGA this weekend. Every week with the tour is interesting and odd, but I really mean it this week. First of all, there’s a new tournament being played in Indianapolis at the Brickyard Crossing. It’s one of several inaugural events in 2017. It is also interesting as one of a handful of 54-hole events. Secondly, the tournament is entitled Indy Women in Tech, presented by Guggenheim. What sort of name is that for a golf tournament? A pretty good one, as it turns out. Indy Women in Tech is a registered charity seeking to “inspire women and girls” in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” a substantial and broad well of support for women in these fields and more.

A professional tournament in Indianapolis isn’t so odd. In fact, it’s a return to the state by the LPGA, the first since the 2005 Solheim. Knowing that, and having grown accustomed to the name already, we’re good to go. However, my next question has got to be, “What kind of name is that for a golf course? It sounds like the sort of place where the Sharks and Jets would go for a rumble in West Side Story. It isn’t, but it’s layout is equally unusual. The four inside holes played at the Brickyard are all contained within the track of the Indianapolis Speedway, where the Indy 500 is held. Tour courses have many interesting settings – mountains, deserts, oceans, etc. But the track of the Indy 500? Wouldn’t you know it? Pete Dye is the culprit, and he created a pretty interesting course in such an unlikely place, with a single creek winding through the whole thing. A water hazard winding through my vision of the Indy 500 sounds all wrong, but if Pete Dye did it, I believe it. It has been referred to as a novelty course, in the manner of Pebble Beach. The term ‘novelty’ should not be confused with anything that criticizes the quality, in Indianapolis or Pebble Beach.
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The Brickyard course is not an overly long one, laying out at just under 7,000 yards from the long tees. Great golf shots are still required in order to get ahead, and going into the final round on Saturday, some of the best shot-makers are in the forefront. Lydia Ko, if anyone hasn’t heard, is in a slump – yeah, sure she is. Her first two rounds were carded as a 65/64. We should all be cursed with such a slump. With rounds like that, Ko should be cruising, just as her recently absent putter has been. But no, Lexi Thompsom has put together a 63/66, and sits tied with Ko as they get ready to be paired together tomorrow. This looks like an ideal gunslinger’s finale, or would if Ko and Thompson were alone in the far under-par crowd. Candie Kung sits one back at minus 14, and could render both irrelevant if her winning ways continue.

The course is good for both Ko and Thompson. Lexi is outdriving her rival at approximately the rate of a medium wedge per shot. She is deadly on the par fives, so long as she keeps it in play and enjoys good approach shots. However, in Ko’s competition with the course itself, she doesn’t need to be the big hitter on the block. Best of all for her, the putter is humming. Relegated to a current #8 in the world after holding down #1 for quite a while, it may be the putter more than any other club that restores her status. And then, of course, there’s Kung, that constant reminder that there are still contenders from the field of 144. It sounds strange to say it, but it should be a great day, both interesting and odd, at the Brickyard.
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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.