When play was suspended for darkness in round one of the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas, sponsor’s invitation Lexi Thompson was ahead of 36 players on the leaderboard. She was also trending on Twitter.
In every respect, the 11-time LPGA Tour winner justified her invitation to play at TPC Summerlin. She’s the seventh woman to tee up on the PGA Tour after Babe Zaharias (1935-46), Shirley Spork (1952), Annika Sorenstam (2003), Suzy Whaley (2003) Michelle Wie (2004-08), and Brittany Lincicome (2018).
Thompson was one over par through 16 holes, although she’ll face a 21-foot putt for par at the difficult par-3 17th on Friday morning when play resumes. Thompson was T-76 on the leaderboard through 16 holes, 10 shots behind clubhouse leader Beau Hossler. His 62 catapulted Hossler to nine under, one ahead of JT Poston and Cameron Champ (63).
“I played decent. I had one bad hole and a few iffy shots,” Thompson said after play was called off. “But it’s golf. It’s been great this whole week. Everybody has been so welcoming and just a huge honour just to be able to tee it up here. The fans were amazing. So many people around that first tee and then following us those next few holes. There’s more to it than just golf. Shriners does amazing things for these kids.”
Thompson found a fairway bunker from the first tee shot, where she said the nerves were comparable to the first tee at the recent Solheim Cup in Spain. Thompson went 3-1-0 for the U.S. “I had a little bit of nerves, but not too much. Kind of similar to Solheim, but that’s what you play for.”
She handled those nerves well. Despite finding the fairway bunker at No. 1, the 28-year-old from Florida stuffed her approach to close range. Although she missed the birdie putt, Thompson found one at the next hole, where she hit a 304-yard drive and drained a 22-foot putt for a 3.
“That was a very special feeling,” she said. “I hit a great shot into 1 and probably hit one of my worst putts. I hit an amazing putt on No. 2, so it was nice to have a good stroke there and make birdie on a more difficult hole.”
Her round fell apart briefly for the next six holes, with a bogey at No.3, a double-bogey at No.7 before another bogey at No.8. But Thompson bounced back at the par-5 ninth, hitting a perfect drive before a 255-yard fairway wood to reach the green in two. Her eagle putt narrowly missed the hole.
“I hit a good drive and just really stayed committed to that 3-wood,” she said. “I tried to make eagle, but definitely take a birdie.”
Thompson stole another shot back at the par-5 13th, then rattled off three more pars before arriving at the 17th. She missed the green and hit her long bunker shot to 21 feet.
“[The 195-yard tee shot] is definitely not the shot you want to wake up super early in the cold [Friday] and hit that tee ball,” she said of being able to hit that before play was called. “But yeah. I’ll see if I can make that putt tomorrow.”