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Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau reteam in Naples tournament

NAPLES, Fla. — Tony Finau is coming off the best season of his career, and Lexi Thompson is coming off perhaps the most satisfying ending of one for her.

This week, the two will try to recapture the magic that took them to fourth place — and improve on that — in the PGA Tour’s QBE Shootout at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

Finau finished in the top 10 in three of four majors, earned a Ryder Cup captain’s pick, and this week has entered the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time.

“I feel like I’ve improved a lot in different parts of my game that I’ve been trying to improve on, and the results have shown that,” Finau said. “It’s pretty cool for me — this is going to be my first week as a top-10 player in the world, which is something that’s pretty special for me.

“So I’m going to enjoy the results that I’ve had and look forward to, just as a team, and see what we can do to see what we can improve on this next season. But as I look back, it was pretty special.”

More: What to know before heading to the QBE Shootout in Naples

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Thompson, just 23 but who has been playing in professional tournaments since she was 12, has kind of been-there, done-that as far as being a top-10 player goes. She’s currently ranked fifth in the world, and is the top-ranked American on the LPGA Tour.

However, she had a difficult season — taking some time for a mental break after a 2017 that included her mother battling cancer, her grandmother dying, the controversial four-stroke penalty in the ANA Inspiration, and missing a short putt that could’ve won the CME Group Tour Championship.

“It was just emotionally draining, so I just needed some time for myself,” she said.

Thompson also revealed in October that she was dealing with self- and body image issues.

“It was a bit of an up-and-down year,” Thompson said. “I played some great golf. Hard to compare to my 2017 season, but I had some great tournaments.”

Two weeks ago, Thompson arrived refreshed, going back to her old hook, an old putter, a new dog, and brother Curtis as her caddie. She all but ran away with the CME Group Tour Championship this time.

“I’ve really just been working on my game the last few months, and it’s been coming around,” she said. “I knew it was very close, so having the win at CME was a huge sign for me that just my hard work was paying off.”

Lexi’s brother Curtis will be back on the bag this week, and Finau will have his cousin, who is pursuing a pro career, as his caddie.

“I guess it is a little bit of a family affair,” Finau said of the pairing. 

“I already warned (Finau),” Thompson said, laughing, about her brother, whom she described as a bit of a goofball. “It’s great to have my brother again on the bag. He’s one of a kind. He’ll keep us laughing, that’s for sure.”

Finau, 29, has had his share of being close. Despite the top-10 ranking and the top-10 finishes in three of the four majors, he still only has one PGA Tour victory — the Puerto Rico Open back in 2016.

But in what can be a self-defeating game, Finau chooses to stay away from the negatives.

“I think you always have to take the positives,” he said. “I’ve always been that way and it helps me. I try to never allow myself to think that I can’t get the job done or whatever the case may be.

“So I’ve had some great finishes; I played some good golf. I do feel like my time is coming, so just keep getting better. And again, that’s all you’re trying to do as a player is try and improve. … We live in a world where so many people are always focused on negative things, and I try not to ever do that, and have kind of trained myself to try and stay positive no matter what.”

 

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