By Josh Thomson
HARRISON – With the leaders so far in front, a Sunday comeback seemed unlikely. Still, Lexi Thompson gave it her best try with seven birdies in an eight-hole stretch.
The 20-year-old American shot a seven-under 66 to finish alone in third after spending much of the afternoon challenging the competitive course record of nine-under.
“Overall, I had a consistent day,” Thompson said. “I hit some good iron shots out there and dropped a few putts on top of it, so it was a fun round. My caddie, Benji, and I, we just had fun in between shots and were very relaxed.”
Thompson started the round nine shots behind leader Inbee Park. She gained steam late in the front nine and birdied holes 7 through 10. After a par at 11, she sliced a superb second shot around a tree right of the 12th fairway to a pin tucked on the right side of the green. Thompson missed the eagle putt, but made birdie.
She added another at 13 before slowing down over her final five holes. That included a bogey at 16 after nearly holing her tee shot for an ace, then watching it roll off the back of the green.
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TV ratings up big: Saturday’s third-round television viewership for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship showed a 136 percent increase over last year. That continued strong ratings increases for the event throughout the week.
Saturday’s coverage on NBC drew a 0.59 rating, the highest overnight rating for any women’s major the last three years other than the U.S. Women’s Open. Viewership also increased by 80 percent on Thursday and 84 percent on Friday compared to last year’s LPGA Championship. Thursday’s coverage was the most-watched Golf Channel early-round coverage since 2009.
Henderson closer to goal: Brooke Henderson, the Canadian teen, finished tied for fifth. Henderson’s finish earned her a check of $132,725, giving her $317,470 in winnings this season.
She will need to either win an LPGA event or finish with prize money equaling No. 40 on the money list to avoid Q-school when she turns 18 this September. Hee Young Park, who was No. 40 on last year’s money list, finished 2014 with $447,658 winnings.
Henderson has only one of the six sponsor’s exemption granted to non-members remaining. She also will play in the U.S. Women’s Open by virtue of last year’s top 10 finish.
“I don’t have a lot of starts left this year on the tour, but I think if I can take advantage of those, hopefully I’ll be full-time out here next year,” Henderson said.
Chip shot: Westchester’s five Par 5s played as the five-easiest holes in the tournament. The only other hole with a stroke average under par was No. 10. Players had the most difficulty at No. 8, which played to the highest stroke average in three of the four rounds and also overall.