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Lexi Thompson shoots 69 in first round since rules violation

Associated Press logo Associated Press 28/04/2017
Lexi Thompson waves to the gallery before her tee shot on the 10th hole during the LPGA Texas Shootout golf tournament in Irving, Texas, Thursday, April 27, 2017. (AP Photo/LM Otero) © The Associated Press Lexi Thompson waves to the gallery before her tee shot on the 10th hole during the LPGA Texas Shootout golf tournament in Irving, Texas, Thursday, April 27, 2017. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

IRVING, Texas — Lexi Thompson was pleased with her first LPGA Tour round since a rules violation cost a likely victory in the first major tournament of the year. And her Thursday round even included a consultation with a rules official.

Thompson shot a 2-under 69, leaving her four strokes behind leader M.J. Hur in the North Texas LPGA Shootout.

"I'm glad to be back in competition," Thompson said. "All I'm focused on is the tournament that I'm at right now out here in Texas. I'm going to Japan next week. I'm forgetting about it all. It's time to move on."

Hur had a bogey-free 65 on a blustery, sunny day at Las Colinas Country Club. Ariya Jutanugarn and Michelle Wie were a stroke back along with Katherine Kirk, Jennifer Song, Sung Hyun Park, Sandra Changkija and Marina Alex.

Nearly a month ago at the ANA Inspiration in California, Thompson was given a four-shot penalty with six holes to play — two shots for replacing her golf ball in the wrong spot on the 17th green, and two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard. The infraction happened on Saturday and it was detected by a TV viewer on Sunday. Thompson wound up losing the first major of the year in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

Golf's ruling bodies this week announced new limits on video evidence that could spare players from being penalized if the violation could not be noticed with the naked eye. Rules official also can eliminate penalties if they feel players made a "reasonable judgment" in taking a drop or replacing their golf balls on the putting green.

Thompson started on the back nine Thursday afternoon and made the turn at 2 under after birdieing the par-4 16th and par-5 18th. She bogeyed the par-4 first and birdied the par-5 seventh after leaving a 30-foot eagle putt a half-inch short.

The 540-yard par-5 seventh hole is the longest on the course. The 233-yard second shot by Thompson, who went into Thursday leading the LPGA Tour in driving distance at an average of 275.6 yards, came to rest just beyond the green in the fringe and between two sprinkler heads.

Thompson sought out the official, who confirmed that the local rule allows relief within two club lengths of the green. Thompson's ball sat just beyond that distance.

"I might as well ask," she said, "but it ended up not being in my way."

Thompson's one bogey was the one green that she missed.

"I hit a great second shot," she said. "The wind just absolutely killed it. It looked like the ball was coming down backward."

Hur, a South Korean who lives about 40 miles from Las Colinas in McKinney, hit the first 14 greens in regulation and 16 overall. The streak ended when her tee shot on the 390-yard, par-4 15th sailed right in the wind and landed in the water. She saved par with a 30-foot putt.

"Everything was really good today, and I really liked the putter," Hur said. "The wind was swirling on every hole. It gave me a headache."

She won the last of her two tour titles in 2014

Top-ranked Lydia Ko, who turned 20 on Monday, shot a 70 in her first round with the latest of 10 caddies since turning pro in 2014, Peter Godfrey. She recently dismissed Gary Matthews after only nine events.

"I kind of needed somebody with a little bit more positive kind of thing and more a nice, confident energy," Ko said. "Hopefully, that will happen between Peter and I."

Defending champion Jenny Shin bogeyed two of her three last holes for a 71.

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