Lexi Thompson back to work in Texas as major champ
IRVING, Texas (AP) — Lexi Thompson got a congratulatory text from Nancy Lopez, a letter from Arnold Palmer and countless tweets.
There was also a trip to Germany for sponsor Puma that included doing a commercial with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, along with several media appearances.
A lot has happened for Thompson in the three weeks since the 19-year-old American became a major champion. Now it is time to get back on the course.
“Yeah, they’ve been pretty busy,” Thompson said, adding that she still managed to practice and train. “Worked on a few things. Just trying to keep my swing groove like it was at Kraft Nabisco. And working on the same things, but I feel really good coming into this week.”
Thompson tees off Thursday at the second North Texas LPGA Shootout, where world No. 1 player Inbee Park is the defending champion.
In the two LPGA tournaments Thompson didn’t play after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship the first weekend in April, Michelle Wie won at home in Hawaii and Lydia Ko won last week in San Francisco only days after turning 17 and moved up to No. 2 in the world.
“I’m not even the young one out here. Now Lydia is,” the sixth-ranked Thompson said with a smile, though Ko isn’t playing at Las Colinas Country Club this week. “But it’s great to see that the game is getting younger.”
Park, who has been No. 1 for 55 consecutive weeks, was bogey-free the final 35 holes while winning the inaugural North Texas event last year. This is already the third title defense this season for the 25-year-old South Korean who just bought a new home in Las Vegas, and plans to spend next week furnishing it.
“I’ll be just, you know, be using my credit card a lot next week,” Park said, laughing. “So I better make some money this week.”
Park was the runner-up in Thailand in her first title defense this year, and finished 38th at the Kraft Nabisco, though she has bounced back from the season’s first major with consecutive top-four finishes.
There is a full field of 144 players, 140 pros along with four amateurs — two college players and two high school players who earned spots in qualifying rounds. The field includes 18 of the world’s top 25 players playing a unique format of cuts after both the second and third rounds.
Texas native Stacy Lewis, at No. 3, is the highest-ranked American. She struggled with her short game for a closing 71 in last week’s inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. It was her sixth runner-up finish since winning the Women’s British Open in August.
“The old saying the more you do things, the easier it gets, I can tell you that finishing second doesn’t get any easier,” Lewis said. “I didn’t get a lot of sleep on Sunday and Monday. You sit there and you think about all the shots, what you could have done different, you could have done this or that. It’s really hard to come off a week like last week where I had a chance to win.”
But Lewis has finished out of the top six only once in her eight tournaments this season and leads the Race to CME Globe, the LPGA’s new season-long points competition.
“My game is in a great place. I’ve got to get my mind back centered on what I’m doing,” Lewis said. “I’m playing good golf. I’m excited that we get to kind of keep going and keep playing, but it definitely takes a couple days to come off of something like that, like what happened last week.”