CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — The rivalry rolls on.
The ongoing duel between top-ranked Alexis Thompson and fifth-ranked Victoria Tanco continued in the first round of the Rolex Tournament of Champions on Wednesday.
Tanco, playing alongside Thompson, shot 6-under 66 to take a three-shot lead over the field and five-shot lead over Thompson.
“It’s golf, you can always play better,” the soft-spoken Argentine said of her round.
Tanco had no bogeys and six birdies on her round.
Thompson’s round could have been a lot better, but the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champ closed with a two-putt birdie on No. 18 and gritted out a 1-under 71.
The rivalry between the two dates back all the way to last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior, where Thompson topped Tanco, 4 and 3, in the Round of 16. By year’s end, they were flip-flopping the No. 1 and 2 spots in the Golfweek/Titleist Junior Rankings.
Tanco exacted some revenge on her counterpart at the Junior Orange Bowl in December. After Thompson bogeyed the 72nd hole to slip into a playoff, Tanco made par on the fifth hole of sudden death to top Thompson for the trophy.
It was only fitting that they be paired together in the first round of Rolex.
“It’s good to play with her,” Thompson said. “She played awesome today. It was like there was a magnet in the ball.”
Tanco’s focus remained on her round.
“I try to focus on my game and not think about (anyone else),” she said.
From Rolex, the two will travel to Bethlehem, Pa. next week for the U.S. Women’s Open. Thompson, 14, will be playing in her third Women’s Open, while Tanco, 15, is playing in her second.
“Last year, I was determined to do good,” said Thompson, who missed the cut by two shots. “I feel like since I’ve done it before I can do a lot better this year.”
Tanco, who missed the cut by five, left an impression on the galleries when she holed out a 150-yard shot for eagle on the ninth hole at Interlachen.
“I’m going to try to play my best and make the cut,” she said. “This is my second time so I’m going to try to be more patient this time.”
Whether they’re paired together or not, you can be sure these two will be watching each other.
• • •
Michael Weaver is hot and taking advantage of it.
Weaver, fresh off a win at the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior last week, shot 5-under 67 to take a one-shot lead after the first round.
He made six birdies to go along with a lone bogey.
Weaver cruised to his title at Mission Hills, winning by four despite a final-round 73. He shot a 7-under 65 in the first round and followed with a 68 in the second round.
Can Weaver – who will attend Cal in the fall – do it here?
Twelve players are within three shots of his lead.