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Lexi Thompson puts aside any doubts she can keep up at Shriners Open

Updated October 13, 2023 - 4:49 pm

After her fifth birdie of the day on her 11th hole of the second round, the possibility Lexi Thompson was about to make history and make the cut at the Shriners Children’s Open became a very real possibility.

Thompson stood at 2 under, which was most likely going to be the number to make the weekend, giving her a real shot at becoming the second woman — and the first since 1946 — to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Her male competitors were openly rooting for her as the area around the scoring trailers became an open discussion of her chances.

But bogeys on both of the remaining par 3s ended her chances, and a second-round 69 left her at even-par 142 for the week and on the outside looking in. An exhausted Thompson didn’t seem to mind, simply happy with the opportunity she had been given and the ability to deliver a message to all of her young fans.

“It was energizing. Seeing the people out there and hearing the cheers and seeing all the little kids, that’s what I play for,” said Thompson, just the seventh woman to play in a PGA Tour event. “On the last hole a little kid screamed out, ‘Go Lexi, you’re great,’ and that just makes my day.”

Thompson put aside any doubts she could hang with the men with drives that reached in excess of 300 yards on a few occasions and iron play that was spot on for the most part. Chipping and failing to take advantage of some opportunities around the greens kept her from scoring better, but her game was more than impressive to her playing partners.

“It was cool. It was fun,” said Trevor Werbylo, who joined Kevin Roy in Thompson’s threesome for the week. “Obviously there was a pretty big crowd kind of following her, so that brought some good energy to the group. She played great. It was fun to watch.”

Thompson’s effort – just the second time a woman has shot in the 60s on the PGA Tour — was even more impressive given the demands on her throughout the week. Media obligations, fans following her every move and a bright spotlight on her were draining, not to mention a course about 800 yards longer than a typical LPGA Tour layout.

“I’m tired. I’m very tired,” she said. “I felt it last night, and then I knew it was a quick turnaround, so I was like, all right, go to bed, just try to get seven hours. … But this is what I play for. This is why I work out and what I train for.”

And while she very much wanted to make the cut, Thompson said she leaves Las Vegas proud of her effort on the course, but even prouder of the bigger meaning of her attempt.

“Of course playing with the guys was an amazing feeling, but growing up with guys, I’ve always wanted to be out on a PGA Tour event and tee it up,” she said. “But the biggest thing was seeing the kids out there outside the ropes and then meeting a few of the Shriners ambassadors. That was the most special.”

She drew enormous crowds for weekday rounds, all trying to will her putts to fall and continue the journey into the weekend. It didn’t go unnoticed by the 28-year-old superstar.

“That’s what it’s all about,” she said, noting it often brought tears to her eyes. “Just inspiring.”

Greg Robertson covers golf for the Review-Journal. Reach him at grobertson@reviewjournal.com.

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