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Golf Tidbits: Thompson's win caps tough week for LPGA

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Updated: 4/07 2:11 pm

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - From its players feeling disrespected to losing the title sponsor for the first major, it was a difficult week for the LPGA Tour.

All of that was pushed aside when Lexi Thompson out-dueled Michelle Wie to win the Kraft Nabisco title late Sunday. The battle of the young Americans brought a positive light to the LPGA after one of the harder weeks for the tour in recent memory.

The problems started early in the week when Golf Digest magazine announced that Paulina Gretzky, daughter of Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky and fiancee to PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson, would grace the cover of its yearly fitness issue.

Several LPGA players spoke out against this, and things went so far that even LPGA Tour commissioner Mike Whan released a statement on the matter. That may have been a much, but when you realize the last LPGA player on the cover was Lorena Ochoa in 2008, you see why it's a huge deal to the tour's players.

With the current star power on the LPGA Tour, the fact none of its players has been on the cover of one of the leading golf magazines in six years is outrageous.

This same magazine has regular features with LPGA Tour players and gets contributions from the likes of Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen, Natalie Gulbis and Thompson.

Are these contributions reason enough to keep these players off the cover? Not at all.

If the tour was serious about making this a bigger issue, it would have its players withhold these contributions until a tour member is chosen for the cover of the magazine. Or the tour could pull the magazine's press access at the next major as a show of solidarity.

That controversy started the week, and things got darker as the week went on with Kraft Nabisco ending its sponsorship of the season's first major.

Whan has done a tremendous job of building the tour back up after some lean years. Finding a sponsor for your biggest event should not be very difficult, but at the same time, you want that sponsor around for many years.

Nabisco or Kraft Nabisco has been part of the tournament name since 1982.

While the sponsor's issue swirled, rumors also started to circulate that this could have been the last year at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif., which has hosted the tournament since its inception in 1972.

With all that as the background, the tournament came down to two of the brightest American stars.

Wie has been around for over a decade already, yet is still only 24 years old. Thompson broke onto the scene as a 12-year-old at the 2007 U.S. Women's Open. Now 19, Thompson took control early in the final round and cruised to her first major championship title.

Having two of its young stars battle for the year's first major had to be a big boost for the LPGA at the end of a burdensome week for the tour.

The cover issue with Golf Digest may not die soon with preview issues for the final three men's majors coming, and a Ryder Cup preview as well, there is no telling when that drought will end.

Maybe if Thompson wins another major this year, she'll end the drought sooner rather than later.

JONES MAKES OUT AS KUCHAR FALTERS

Matt Jones trailed by as many as seven shots on Sunday at the Houston Open. he fought back from an early bogey with eight birdies, and another bogey, to get into contention.

What Jones needed was for Matt Kuchar to come back to the field, and that is exactly what he did.

Kuchar bogeyed two of the last three holes, including one on the 18th, where he dumped his second shot into the water left of the green. Kuchar saved bogey on 18 just to force a playoff with Jones.

In the extra session, Jones chipped in for birdie on the first playoff hole to break through and win for the first time on the PGA Tour. It also gave Jones his first invitation to the Masters this week.

Jones has contended before, but had just one top-three finish before this. He was the runner-up last year at The Greenbrier Classic, which was one of his five top-10 finishes in 2013.

In 156 PGA Tour starts, Jones has 17 top-10s and 37 top-25 finishes. If you had never heard of him before, now you know why.

He goes from the anonymity of being a middle-of-the-road tour player to a PGA Tour winner, who just earned the final spot in the Masters. Shooting 66 in the final round to win on the PGA Tour is a big deal, regardless of the tournament, but playing in the Masters is an even bigger deal.

This week, it will be interesting to see how Jones deals with the pressure in his seventh major championship start.

MINI-TIDBITS

- The field for the Masters is wide open as few players are coming in with any momentum. Jordan Spieth is making his first start at Augusta and is an interesting choice. If healthy, Jason Day is a solid pick, while Graham DeLaet isn't a bad dark-horse selection.

- Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson could rise to No. 1 in the world rankings with a win at the Masters. If Scott were to win, he would be the first back-to-back winner since Tiger Woods in 2001-02.

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