US women’s golf star Lexi Thompson was one over par through 16 holes in her PGA Tour debut when darkness fell in Thursday’s opening round of the Shriners Children’s Open.
The 28-year-old LPGA Tour standout became only the seventh woman to compete in a PGA Tour tournament, the first since compatriot Brittany Lincicome at the 2018 Barbasol Championship.
“Just a huge honour just to be able to tee it up here,” said Thompson, who played on a sponsor’s exemption. “I played decent. I had one bad hole and a few iffy shots. But it’s golf. It was kind of expected.”
Her presence stole the show at the fall event at par-71 TPC Summerlin in suburban Las Vegas, a tournament aimed at players fighting to earn their status for the 2024 PGA season.
American Beau Hossler birdied five of the last seven holes to shoot 62 and grab a one-stroke lead over countrymen Cameron Champ and JT Poston with 12 players yet to finish the first 18 holes.
Thompson blasted out of a bunker to 20 feet from the hole at the par-three 17th when play was halted. She will finish Friday morning then play her second round as originally scheduled.
“I’ll see if I can make that putt tomorrow,” Thompson said.
Thompson was level for 76th in a bid to become only the second woman to go the distance in a PGA Tour tournament, the first being Shirley Spork with a 105th-place result at the 1952 Barracuda Championship.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias played in seven PGA Tour events, the last in 1946, while American Michelle Wie West made eight PGA Tour starts, missing the cut in all, most recently at the 2008 Barracuda Championship.
Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam missed the cut at Colonia in 2003 and American Suzy Whaley missed the cut at the 2003 Travelers Championship.
Thompson felt the weight of history as her round began, comparing it to the tension of the Solheim Cup team matches, including last month’s event where she was on the US squad that drew 14-14 with Europe but couldn’t reclaim the trophy.
“I had a little bit of nerves, but not too much,” she said. “Similar to Solheim, similar nerves, but that’s kind of what you play for.”
Thompson sank a birdie putt from just inside 23 feet at the 2nd hole but missed the green with her approach at the 3rd and made bogey.
She made a three-putt double bogey at the 7th and missed the green to bogey to the par-three 8th but drove the green in two at the par-five 9th to set up a tap-in birdie.
“I knew I could get 3-wood up close to the front of the green and make birdie there,” Thompson said. “Hit a good drive and just really stayed committed to that 3-wood.”
Thompson sank a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-5 13th but missed on a birdie putt from just inside nine feet at the par-five 16th.
Thompson, who won her only Major title at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco, last took an LPGA title at the 2019 ShopRite Classic.
Her most recent title came in a Ladies European Tour event at New York in October 2022.
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images