Lexi Thompson says making the cut at this week’s Shriners Children’s Open will be the highlight of her career as she prepares to become only the seventh female golfer to tee it up on the PGA Tour.
The 28-year-old LPGA Tour star will be the centre of attention on Thursday when the Las Vegas tournament gets under way at TPC Summerlin, with Thompson relishing the chance to test herself against her male PGA Tour counterparts.
Thompson is following in the footsteps of an elite band of women golfers who have played in men’s events on the PGA Tour, a list that begins with the legendary Babe Didrikson Zaharias in 1935 and runs up to Brittany Lincicome in 2018.
Didrikson Zaharias remains the only woman to have made the cut in a PGA Tour event, although Shirley Spork played all four rounds in the 1952 Northern California-Reno Open, an event which had no cut.
Thompson says matching Didrikson Zaharias’s achievement by extending her Las Vegas campaign into the weekend would take pride of place among her career achievements.
“Definitely at the top of my accomplishments,” Thompson said Tuesday. “It’s been an honour just to get this invite, but one step, one shot at a time. That would be an amazing feeling.”
Thompson’s invite to play in Las Vegas has not been without controversy.
PGA Tour policy board member Peter Malnati described Thompson’s invite to the tournament as a “gimmick” last week before quickly retracting the remark.
An unfazed Thompson said Tuesday she had expected some negative blowback.
“No reaction. I knew some comments were going to happen,” Thompson said.
“Like I said, I’m out here playing of course with the men, but I want to leave a message just to the kids that I’m following my dreams and to go after what you want with a positive mindset and don’t let anybody’s comments or reaction get in the way of that.
“It’s all good. I mean, I expected it.”
Thompson added that she hopes to send a message to children that “no dream is too small and they can go after what they want and follow their dreams.”
The American – who became the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the US Women’s Open as a 12-year-old in 2007 – says she does not expect to be affected by pressure this week.
“You just have to block out everything and believe in yourself and go after what you want,” she said. “No added pressure. That’s what I want. I want to have women support me and me support them. That’s what it’s all about.”
© Agence France-Presse
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