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.
Sad Beautiful Tragic: Bottom 10 jumps on the Taylor Swift bandwagon
Inspirational thought of the week:
Is taking its sweet time erasing you.
And you’ve got your demons
And darlin’ they all look like me.
‘Cause we had a beautiful magic love there …
What a sad beautiful tragic love affair.
— “Sad Beautiful Tragic,” Taylor Swift
Here at Bottom 10 Headquarters, located in the storage room where Jesse Palmer keeps his emergency supplies of arch supports and joint liniments for the contestants on “The Golden Bachelor,” we spent our September standing in line outside football stadiums around the country, not waiting to see football games or to see Taylor Swift, but to see Taylor Swift seeing football games.
Are Tay-Tay and Travis Kelce dating? We don’t know. But they seem to be, and at first blush the girl who grew up in Temple Owls territory and the former Cincinnati Bearcat might seem like an odd pairing. So might involving T-Swizzle, whose current tour has earned a reported $2.2 billion, in the Bottom 10. But look at the woman’s lyrics, why don’t you?
“It’s me. Hi. I’m the problem, it’s me.”
“And if I get burned, at least we were electrified.”
“I’m still a believer, but I don’t know why. I’ve never been a natural. All I do is try, try, try.”
Do those not sound like the cries of the teams of the Bottom 10? Heck, during this very tour Taylor even threw up an “L” sign!
— Taylor Swift Facts (@blessedswifty) April 22, 2023
With that in mind and with Arrowhead Stadium lathered up into a sequin-covered frenzy, we are going full Swiftie, finding Miss Americana’s songs that best fit every “Anti-Hero” on this list.
With apologies to Lawrence Taylor, Aaron Taylor, D’Andre Swift and Steve Harvey, here’s the Post-Week 5 Bottom 10.
1. No-vada (0-5)
“I Did Something Bad”
I’m not great at math — my accountant and every teacher I ever had can tell you that. But I do know that there are 133 FBS football programs. I also know that the Wuf Pack currently rank 131st in points for and 130th in points against. I also know that if you can’t score and you can’t keep the other guys from scoring, that’s bad. Like, as bad as I normally am at math.
2. U-Can’t (0-5)
“This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things”
On paper, a one-point loss to a Utah State program that goes bowling pretty much every winter doesn’t seem that bad. But when you realize the Huskies had a 17-point lead but lost when a would-be game-tying PAT was blocked with 40 seconds remaining, you realize that “on paper” is actually one of those newspapers that Jason Bourne likes to hide behind as he punches you in the face.
3. Sam Houston State We Have Problem (0-4)
In the Battle of FBS Newbies against Jacksonville State, the Bearkats seized an eight-point lead with 1:11 remaining, but immediately surrendered an eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in less than a minute as well as the 2-point conversion to force overtime. Not only did the Kats lose in OT, but we had a certified Bottom 10 moment when the overtime coin toss had to be redone because during the coin flip, the coin hadn’t actually flipped.
Ref asks for redo after OT coin toss flub
Before Jacksonville State and Sam Houston start overtime, the official tries to flip the coin, but it doesn’t actually flip.
4. Akronmonious (1-4)
“The Moment I Knew”
Speaking of math, we have spent a disproportionate amount of time this fall watching the MCU — the #MACtion Cinematic Universe — to see who among the one-and-something teams would make a statement that they were ready to break away. When our friends the Zips lost to the then-second-ranked Buffalo Bulls Not Bills — and did so via a blocked field goal in overtime, then, like my college girlfriend throwing all of my stuff out her 10th-floor dormitory window, that statement had been made.
5. UC(not S)F (3-2)
The Fightin’ Guses of UCF were up 35-7 in the third quarter before surrendering 35 unanswered points to Baylor. Even so, they still had a chance to win the game but missed a 59-yard field goal attempt as time expired. It was the biggest comeback in Baylor history and the biggest collapse in Orlando since I tried to do that “drinking around the world” thing at Epcot.
6. UMess (1-5)
“Right Where You Left Me”
Remember way back in the day, like, two weeks ago, when Arkansaw State was atop the bottom of these rankings and looked like a runway Red Wolf of a favorite to win the Bottom 10? Then the Wolves beat Southern Missed. Then they beat these guys, the team that even way-er back in the day, like five weeks ago, started the season as the top bottom team in the preseason Bottom 10, but opened the season with a promising win … and haven’t won since.
7. You A Bee? (1-4)
“You Need to Calm Down”
Trent Dilfer has always worn his heart on his sleeve, as witnessed by his emotion this week ahead of UAB’s annual Children’s Harbor Game supporting children battling illness. But if you saw him just a few days earlier, “discussing” a substitution infraction with his coaching staff, then you also know he wears slobber and seething bile on his sleeve like that Blazers mascot logo that spits fire.
Trent Dilfer incensed on the sideline after a costly penalty
Trent Dilfer erupts on multiple assistant coaches after UAB draws a costly illegal substitution penalty.
8. UTEPid (1-5)
“Back to December”
The Minors registered their fourth straight loss and fifth of the season, with their only victory coming against Incarnate Word of the FCS. That means they are one loss away from getting back to another December without bowl eligibility.
9. Charlotte 1-and-4’ers (1-4)
There were so many T-Swizzle options here. We could have gone with “Sweater” or even “Dress” or perhaps even “Cold As You” because as October temperatures fall and the Niners‘ keep piling up losses, maybe it’s time for Biff Poggi to try coaching a game in something with sleeves. The cutoff shirts are becoming like the fungus on the shower shoes of Nuke LaLoosh.
10. Stanfird (1-4)
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
As the season nears its halfway point, we have also officially entered the “oh dang, we won’t be playing again?” portion of the 2023 pre-realignment season. See: Stanford and Oregon, who have played 87 times dating back to 1900, including the current run of nearly uninterrupted annual meetings that reaches back to 1951. Next year this game will be replaced on the Cardinal‘s and Ducks’ schedules by the likes of Wake Forest and Michigan State — turning what used to be a Poulan Weed Eater Independence or Redbox Bowl matchup into a conference game.
Waiting List: FA(not I)U, R.O.C.K. in the UTSA, EC-Yew, The Pitt and the Pendulum, UVA Tech, Muddled Tennessee, the MCU (#MACtion Cinematic Universe), San No-sé State, Rod Tidwell’s alma mater, LSU’s feaux D, all the old angry guys who tweeted at me about Deion Sanders last week and will tweet at me about Taylor Swift this week
Why the Oilers will win the Cup, and predictions for every NHL team’s finish in the 2023-24 season
The Edmonton Oilers are going to win the 2024 Stanley Cup.
Granted, I predicted that the Oilers would win the 2023 Stanley Cup, which they very much did not. In fact, my preseason championship prognostications have become something of a curse.
As is tradition, I reached out to the general manager of my Stanley Cup champion-in-waiting to let him know what’s coming.
Me: “I’m picking you to win the Stanley Cup again. I’m sorry.”
Ken Holland, general manager of the Edmonton Oilers: “Oh boy.”
And that was the extent of it.
My logic last time was that Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are generational talents on the same team, and that eventually that kind of partnership leads to a Stanley Cup win. Like it did for Gretzky and Messier, for Mario and Jagr, for Sakic and Forsberg and for Crosby and Malkin.
I still believe that to be the case for Connor and Leon but now have an additional reason to believe this is the year: They’ve reached a point of utter disgust over falling short in the playoffs.
Look at Draisaitl’s reaction after being eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights last season. Hood up. Eyes filled with rage. He’s over it. I see in him what I saw in Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche before they won the Stanley Cup: I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.
At the NHL Players Media Tour, I asked Draisaitl whether he has reached that MacKinnon Moment.
2023 MLB playoffs: Our predictions from the wild-card games through the World Series
The 2023 MLB playoffs kick off on Tuesday afternoon, with 12 teams hoping to raise this year’s World Series trophy.
The Braves — who enter October with MLB’s best record — look to win their second World Series title in three years, while the Phillies will try to take down their NL East foe to return to the Fall Classic — and win it this year. The Astros, on the other hand, want to become baseball’s first repeat champions since the Yankees won three straight from 1998 to 2000. And the Orioles hope to ride their momentum from the regular season all the way to their first title in 40 years.
Who will win each round? And which squad will be the last standing at the end of the postseason? We asked more than 25 of our MLB experts — from ESPN.com, TV, Stats & Information and more — to give us their predictions.
Below are their picks for the wild-card winners (two teams will make it out of each league), division series winners, league championship series winners and World Series champion.
American League Wild Card Series
Toronto Blue Jays 17
Minnesota Twins 10
Our voters seem to be split between Minnesota and Toronto. Why do you think the Twins will prevail? This is a tight matchup between two franchises really starved for some postseason validation. The Twins’ offense has been better than Toronto’s in recent weeks, which is not something you’d guess just looking at the names of who has been available. The rotation matchup is fantastic, and a lot hinges on Pablo Lopez against Kevin Gausman in Game 1. When and if it goes to the bullpen, I really like the way Minnesota’s current pecking order stacks up, with Chris Paddack back on the mound, Kenta Maeda able to work the middle innings and, of course, Jhoan Duran waiting at the end. The margins are somewhere between small and invisible, but I like the Twins in three. — Bradford Doolittle
Tampa Bay Rays 22
Texas Rangers 5
How do the Rangers come out of the wild-card series triumphant against the 99-win Rays? When the Rangers’ lineup is whole — which it is again — it is the most potent in the AL. Corey Seager and Josh Jung both missed extended time because of injury, but this team went 50-31 and averaged 5.5 runs/game when they both played. That, for me, is the tiebreaker in what is practically a coin-flip series. — Paul Hembekides
National League Wild Card Series
Milwaukee Brewers 24
Arizona Diamondbacks 3
The D-backs are the overwhelming underdog in our voters’ eyes. How do you think they pull off the upset? The Brewers have the best pitching staff in the NL, and quite possibly the entire postseason. They are really hard to score runs against, and if anyone other than the Braves is going to be representing the NL in the World Series, I think it’s going to be the Brewers. But that’s where what Arizona does best comes into play. The D-backs stole the second-most bases in baseball and struck out fewer times than all but three teams. They put the ball in play and they manufacture runs. This kind of approach has a better chance against Milwaukee than an all-or-nothing home run-oriented offense, and, especially in a short series, that could add up to just enough scoring to pull off the upset. — Dan Mullen
Philadelphia Phillies 25
Miami Marlins 2
The Marlins surprised everyone by even making the playoffs. What makes you think they won’t get past Philly? It’s not so much a problem with the Marlins; it’s that the Phillies continue to feel like a team that is built for October, especially while playing in front of their own rowdy fans. Bryce Harper will find his moment at some point. Trea Turner went ballistic for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and is scorching hot yet again. And overall, the top part of their roster is significantly more talented and seasoned than that of the Marlins — and that really matters in small, pressure-filled October sample sizes. — Alden Gonzalez
American League Division Series
ALDS: Winner of Blue Jays-Twins vs. Houston Astros
Houston Astros 23
Toronto Blue Jays 3
Minnesota Twins 1
The Astros are our voters’ favorite here, but you chose the Jays. Why do you think they can win it? I’m not sure why so many people grant the Astros automatic entry into the ALCS. This isn’t the 2022 team — the Astros posted a middle-of-the-road 4.31 ERA from July forward, enjoyed no home-field advantage at all (they were three games under .500 at home, after being 29 over last year) and dropped all three games in Toronto against the Blue Jays’ top three rotation members in June. I think the Blue Jays caught a break with the silly no-reseeding rule, getting to face the Astros in the division series rather than the Orioles, against whom they were 3-10 in the regular season. — Tristan Cockcroft
ALDS: Winner of Rangers-Rays vs. Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles 15
Texas Rangers 1
Tampa Bay Rays 11
Make the case for the Orioles: When the Orioles came somewhat out of nowhere to win 83 games last season, people thought they were ahead of schedule. With a blistering 101-win pace this year, a young team that doesn’t know any better won’t be afraid of a battle-tested Rays team. The Rays’ top pitcher, Tyler Glasnow, posted an 8.22 ERA against the O’s in three starts this season. And guess who stopped the Rays’ streak of 36 consecutive scoreless innings in September? You guessed it: Baltimore. Home field will be huge here. — Clinton Yates
Make the case for the Rays: It almost doesn’t matter who the Rays play. The pitching staff generally overachieves, especially in the bullpen, and they’ll open the first few games with high-end, strikeout guys. Watch out for rookie Junior Caminero. The Rays boast plenty of power and maneuverability, and most members of the team are playoff experienced. — Eric Karabell
National League Division Series
NLDS: Winner of Diamondbacks-Brewers vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Dodgers 20
Milwaukee Brewers 7
What makes the Dodgers a threat in October? My theory about the playoffs is that they are about proven star performers and not making mistakes due to institutional continuity and excellence. Ronald Acuna Jr., Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman would be the top three for the former, and the Braves, Dodgers and Astros would be the top three for the latter. I’ll bet on the Dodgers and Braves to beat anyone until they go head-to-head. — Kiley McDaniel
How can the Brewers upset L.A. to advance? The Brewers will send the Dodgers home this season, and they’ll do it in the most teeth-grinding way possible. Short on offense but absolutely stacked in the bullpen, the Brewers will win four games by scores of 2-1 or 3-2. There might be bunts involved. One reliever after another — Hoby Milner, Bryse Wilson, Abner Uribe, Joel Payamps and finally Devin Williams — will make nine innings feel like five or six. The Dodgers are the second-best offense in baseball, so it’s a tall task, and an admittedly preposterous idea, but the Brewers will win because bullpens win this time of year, right? — Tim Keown
NLDS: Winner of Marlins-Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves
Atlanta Braves 22
Philadelphia Phillies 5
The Braves were upset by the Phillies in last year’s division series. Why do you think Atlanta has it in the bag this time around? Philadelphia pitchers will have a hard time keeping the Braves in the ballpark. Aaron Nola gave up 32 home runs — the sixth most in baseball this year — but the Braves can take anyone deep. This time, they’ll do exactly that to the Phillies. They will out-homer a good home-run-hitting team and move on to the NLCS. — Jesse Rogers
American League Championship Series
Houston Astros 9
Baltimore Orioles 9
Tampa Bay Rays 7
Toronto Blue Jays 1
Texas Rangers 1
Houston, Baltimore and Tampa Bay all received a similar number of votes. Why are the Astros your pick? The AL can be won by five, if not six, teams. I’ll take the Astros because of the way they have played since being swept at home by the Royals. They went to Seattle and won two out of three in front of loud, huge crowds. Then they went to Arizona and swept the Diamondbacks to win the AL West. Houston’s experience this time of year cannot be overstated. It doesn’t have the same depth of veteran starting pitching that it had last year, but that lineup is tremendous now that Michael Brantley is back and Yordan Alvarez is crushing. It’s corny and a cliché, but never underestimate the heart of a champion. — Tim Kurkjian
Why are the Rays yours? The Rays lost three-fifths of their rotation. They lost their entire middle infield. And yet here they are, still with a representative enough pitching staff and deep enough lineup to capture the pennant. How? Because they never stray from who they are and what they do well. Tampa Bay survived the injuries through depth — the sort of depth that, in October, plays particularly well. The depth to play platoons correctly. The depth to deploy relievers in leverage moments. Depth isn’t sexy. But in the case of the Rays, it’s enough to make up for all they lack. — Jeff Passan
National League Championship Series
Atlanta Braves 21
Philadelphia Phillies 5
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
The NL is a little more clear-cut, with the Braves the overwhelming favorite here. But you chose the Phillies. Why? It’s an upset pick. I have no illusions about that. I just really like the Phillies’ roster in a postseason context. No team can match the Braves in terms of sheer firepower, but the Phillies are in the mix for the top of the next tier. Philly’s rotation is deep and stacks up well against Atlanta’s battered group, no matter how things go in the wild-card round. The tipping-point factor to me is the Phillies’ bullpen, which has vicious stuff coming from both sides of the plate and from more than one reliever. Once we get to the LDS round and there are some built-in off-days, I think that group could carry the Phillies all the way. I can’t say the same thing about the Atlanta bullpen. — Doolittle
Atlanta Braves 21
(Matt Marrone, Jesse Rogers, Matthew Stupienski, Brianna Williams, Alden Gonzalez, Tristan Cockcroft, Karl Ravech, Enrique Rojas, Liz Finny, Michael Kay, Dan Mullen, Tim Keown, Jeff Passan, Tim Kurkjian, Peter Lawrence-Riddell, Brendan DeAngelis, Kiley McDaniel, Rachel Ullrich, Clinton Yates, David Fleming, Gregg Colli)
Philadelphia Phillies 4
(Buster Olney, Eric Karabell, Paul Hembekides, Bradford Doolittle)
Los Angeles Dodgers 1
Baltimore Orioles 1
The Braves were our most popular pick. Why did you go with Atlanta here? I typically pick some series winners that aren’t favored or don’t have the best regular-season records because the playoffs are always more random than you think. But I just can’t pick against the Braves, even though that’s the chalk answer. Their offense is so overwhelming and they have Spencer Strider as their ace, not to mention a strong back end of the bullpen. Pair that with some rest and the know-how in navigating the playoffs and you’ve got a recipe for a World Series title. — McDaniel
What makes you think the Phillies can come away with the title this year? In many respects, they are better prepared for a long run through October than they were last year, when they came so close from an 87-win season to winning the whole thing. Bryson Stott, Brandon Marsh, Alec Bohm and other young players on the team now have the experience of playing in the postseason, and the Phillies’ pitching staff is deeper and maybe better. They’ve also got stars who can carry the others through a big spot — Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. Look, the Phillies have to play one more round than the Astros, Braves and Dodgers, and with that, there might well be injuries and worn-down pitchers. But this is a really dangerous team. — Olney
You were our only pick for the O’s. Explain how Baltimore wins its first World Series since 1983. The Orioles have been the AL’s most consistent team all season, winning 101 games in the toughest division. They’ve played their best baseball over the final two months, with the second-best record behind only the Dodgers. They went 51-39 against winning teams, best in the AL. They play defense and run the bases, and their lineup is better than you realize (fourth in the majors in runs on the road). Would I feel better about this prediction with a healthy Felix Bautista? Yes, but the bullpen hasn’t skipped a beat without him. Given the pitching concerns with the Braves, Dodgers and Rangers, it’s Baltimore’s year. Let the dynasty begin. — Schoenfield
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