KOHLER, Wis. – By the time Lexi Thompson played her approach shot into the ninth green on Friday, it’s safe to say the worst of an oppressive Midwest heat wave had broken. The sun set on a downright pleasant evening at Blackwolf Run, and weather forecasts suggest the hottest temperatures have passed.
The golf is just getting started.
Thompson ended her second round with a three-putt bogey at No. 9, which features a sprawling putting surface that’s adjoined with the 18th green just a few yards to the north. She put her approach in the neck between the two, left her birdie putt considerably short and then missed the par putt. It was really only the second mistake of her day, the first coming a few hours prior at the opposite hole. Thompson pulled her second shot into the water at 18 then failed to get up and down, making a double bogey. She finished the day with a 1-over 73, good for a share of ninth and four strokes back of the lead entering the weekend.
The rest of Friday’s contenders put up scores in the morning wave, which left all eyes on the 17-year-old Thompson in the afternoon.
It didn’t bother her a bit.
“I was just going out with the same attitude no matter what they shot,” Thompson said. “I was trying to make birdies and pars and ended up making a few bad scores, but it happens at Opens.”
And she would know. This week’s start represents her sixth time playing in the national championship. When Thompson addressed the media post-round, you got the sense that she could play U.S. Open-style rough in her sleep. She answered course questions like an old vet, including this one:
Michelle Wie shot 66 today. Did you think there was a 66 on this course?
“It’s out there,” Thompson said. “As long as you just find the fairways and place your ball in the right spot on the greens. It’s definitely out there, but you have to have your pretty much A-plus game.”
Thompson never has gotten that low on a Women’s Open setup – her best score stands at 70, which she shot in the third round at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club in 2010. Thompson doesn’t expect the USGA to do her or fellow competitors any favors in the next two rounds – think pushed-back tee boxes and tucked pins because “that’s what they do on the weekends” – but she won’t change her game regardless.
Just four shots behind the leaders, she’s still very much in this game.