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SAN FRANCISCO — Lexi Thompson needed to get her mind right before she could her golf game back and now is in position to win her first second career major.

Thompson shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Saturday to take the lead into the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time in her career with a one-shot edge over teenager Yuka Saso.

“I haven’t played to my standards and what I need and I just realized that I needed to change my mindset,” Thomson said. “It was only hurting me. Obviously, I needed to work on some technical things in my game and everything, but the mental side was really getting to me. I was just taking it way too seriously and thinking that Lexi depended on my score.”

Thompson said she’s been working again with performance coach John Denney about not dwelling on mistakes although she made few Saturday when she was the first player all week to make par or better on every hole in the round.

That had her in the lead at 7 under heading into the final round of a major for the first time since 2017, when her edge after 54 holes at the ANA Inspiration was erased on Sunday when she was penalized four strokes after a viewer saw that she had misplaced her marked ball during the third round.

Thompson still managed to make it into a playoff against So Yeon Ryu but she lost and was unable to add to the 2014 ANA Inspiration title she won for her first major.

Thompson played a nearly flawless round Saturday in search of her first U.S. Women’s Open title in her 15th try after first competing as a 12-year-old amateur in 2007. She has four-top 10 finishes at the U.S. Women’s Open, including a runner-up two years ago in Charleston.

Thompson has been lurking around the leaderboard all week, shooting 69 on Thursday and 71 in the second round before shooting the low round of her career at this tournament on Saturday.

She started to make a run with three birdies, including one on No. 9 after hitting her tee shot into the second cut of rough. She still managed to get on the green and made a 20-foot putt to get to 5 under.

Thompson added another long birdie putt on No. 14 and reached the green at the par-5 17th in two shots before two-putting for birdie and the lead. She saved par with a 3-foot putt at 18 after hitting her tee shot into the rough and her approach behind the green.

“I struck it well all day, made a few good putts out there,” she said. “It’s all about patience out on this golf course because there’s going to be bad shots made and you’re going to miss some fairways, so you just have to get bogey at worst and get off the hole and go on to the next.”

Saso made back-to-back bogeys on the back nine to fall out of the lead before recovering with a birdie at the par-5 17th to get back to 7 under. She missed a 12-foot par putt on 18 and ended the day a stroke back.

New Jersey high school amateur Megha Ganne shot a 72 and was tied for third at 3 under with 2019 champion Jeongueun Lee6 of South Korea.

China’s Shanshan Feng was fifth at 2 under, with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and American Megan Khang the only other players under par at 1 under.

Saso, who has never finished better than sixth in an LPGA Tour event, will play in the final group on Sunday with a chance to join South Korea’s Inbee Park as the only teens to win this tournament. Park did it at 19 years, 11 months, 17 days in 2008, which will be Saso’s exact age Sunday.

The 17-year-old Ganne was a crowd favorite at the course and kept her composure early with a couple of early par saves and birdies on the fifth and ninth holes to get within a shot of the lead at 5 under. Back-to-back bogeys to start the back nine knocked her down the leaderboard before she steadied herself with seven straight pars to end the day.

“It was really mentally a grind out there and I’ve never had to just perform from such bad lies and situations hole after hole and still believe that I was going to do it again on the next hole,” she said. “So it was a lot, but I’m confident in how I’m playing.”

Lee6 got to 6 under with a birdie at No. 4 but fell off when she hit her tee shot into the deep rough at No. 5 and ended up with a double bogey.

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Strider begins recovery, says Braves can win WS




Strider begins recovery, says Braves can win WS

ATLANTA — Atlanta Braves ace Spencer Strider began to feel discomfort in his right elbow in spring training but didn’t realize the severity of the injury until learning he needed season-ending surgery.

Strider said he had a bone fragment develop following Tommy John surgery in 2019 that caused the ulnar collateral ligament to become unstable. Strider also said he did not have a tear that required a second Tommy John surgery and he instead had an internal brace procedure, perhaps giving him a better opportunity to recover for the start of the 2025 season.

Strider finally complained about the issue after pitching four innings in Atlanta’s 6-5 win over Arizona on April 5.

“You’re not going to feel good when you’re playing baseball every day,” Strider said Friday while standing in front of his locker in his first news conference since the surgery. “So I’m not searching for that. You know, like I said, I’m going to pitch through anything if I feel like I can help the team and I felt like I couldn’t do that anymore, so I thought it’s time to say something.”

An MRI the next day revealed damage to his UCL. Texas Rangers physician Dr. Keith Meister performed the procedure on April 13.

“They’re theorizing that I tore some connective tissue … and that’s what destabilized the ligament,” Strider said. “And maybe I blew through the last of that on that game and things deteriorated pretty quickly throughout the outing.”

Strider was Atlanta’s No. 1 starting pitcher after going 20-5 with 281 strikeouts in last year, when he led the major leagues in wins and strikeouts.

With his right arm immobilized in a sling, Strider said he will look for ways to support his teammates.

“These guys don’t don’t need me to to win a World Series,” he said. “So you know they’re going to pursue that journey. I’ll be here here to cheer them on.”

Replacing Strider will be a challenge.

Right-hander Allan Winans allowed seven runs — six earned — over five innings in a 16-15 loss to the New York Mets on April 11 and was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after the game.

Right-hander Darius Vines had more success, allowing one run and four hits with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of a 6-1 win at Houston on Monday. Vines is scheduled to make his second start of the season on Sunday night against Texas.

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D-backs’ Nelson, hit by comebacker, lands on IL




D-backs' Nelson, hit by comebacker, lands on IL

The Arizona Diamondbacks placed right-hander Ryne Nelson on the 15-day injured list Friday because of an elbow contusion suffered the previous night.

Nelson was hit on the right arm by a line drive off the bat of the San Francisco GiantsMike Yastrzemski during the second inning of his start Thursday night.

The team recalled outfielder Pavin Smith from Triple-A Reno in the corresponding roster move.

Smith, a first-round pick (seventh overall) of the Diamondbacks in 2017, hit .188 (36-for-191) in 69 games with Arizona last season, dropping his average to .240 in his four big-league seasons. He has 28 home runs and 116 RBIs in 391 games.

The Diamondbacks also designated infielder Jace Peterson for assignment. Peterson had only one hit in 22 at-bats for Arizona this season and hit .183 (17-for-93) through 41 games with the Diamondbacks in 2023.

Information from Field Level Media was used in this report.

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Struggling Hendricks to start, but Cubs worried




Struggling Hendricks to start, but Cubs worried

CHICAGO — Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks will make his scheduled start against the Miami Marlins on Sunday, but the team is concerned about the veteran’s start to the season.

Hendricks, 34, is 0-2 with a 12.71 ERA over four outings that includes a league-high seven home runs allowed.

“It’s not one or two starts,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said Friday morning. “It’s been four, so I think there is a level of concern, but I would also say, given his track record and given the fact that he’s gotten through some struggles in the past, this isn’t the first time he’s struggled. No one pitches in the big leagues and doesn’t have those struggles at some point.”

Hendricks has always been a slow starter, but this April has been particularly bad. Opposing batters are hitting .514 off his sinker, and his four-seam fastball hasn’t been much better. His changeup has also been problematic, although it was better last time out against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Time isn’t on Hendricks’ side as the Cubs have a group of young pitchers pushing for more time on the mound.

“Kyle’s performance needs to improve,” manager Craig Counsell stated simply. “We’re clear on that, and I think Kyle agrees on that.”

The Cubs won’t put on a timetable on needing to see improvement — Counsell said every situation is different — but with the return of Jameson Taillon from injury and Justin Steele not far off, the team is hoping for improvement soon.

“The velocity is the same, if not a tick up from last year,” Hoyer said. “His location and execution have been poor. He’s paid for it, facing good lineups.”

Hendricks will get a softer landing against the Marlins on Sunday as they enter the weekend ranked 29th in OPS. That should be an easier task than the four previous opponents he faced: the Rangers, Dodgers, Padres and Diamondbacks. In between, he missed the light-hitting Rockies (in Chicago) and Mariners.

“It’s been about elite, elite level of command and execution and sequencing,” Hoyer said. “We haven’t had that. Without those things, he’s not going to get results.”

Some in Hendricks’ orbit want him to throw his curveball more — he has nearly abandoned it over the past two seasons — while others just believe it’s the execution of his bread-and-butter pitches that needs to be better. Hendricks is the longest-tenured Cubs player and has survived in the majors on his sinker and changeup.

“There’s a level of concern,” Hoyer reiterated. “But I’m confident he’ll figure it out.”

With Taillon’s first start of the season Friday and a doubleheader Saturday, the Cubs are hopeful for a longer stint out of Hendricks come Sunday. He has made it through five innings only once this season while the team has amassed the second-fewest innings from its starting staff overall.

“The nature of the weekend is we need innings from everybody, with what’s going on,” Counsell said.

The return of Taillon means Ben Brown will go back to the bullpen after a successful couple of starts, but depending on how Hendricks performs in the near future, Brown’s role could change again.

Hendricks, a onetime World Series hero, is under pressure to perform in potentially his final year with the Cubs. He will be a free agent after the season.

“So much of what he does is based on execution and feel, and maybe it takes a little bit longer,” Hoyer said. “His place in Cubs history is secure. I don’t think anything is going to change that.”

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