Lexi Thompson shows heart, soul by halving Solheim Cup match vs. Nordqvist

The Solheim Cup - Day Three David Cannon/Getty Images

Lexi Thompson shows heart, soul by halving Solheim Cup match vs. Nordqvist

LPGA Tour

Lexi Thompson shows heart, soul by halving Solheim Cup match vs. Nordqvist

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Things couldn’t have started much worse for Lexi Thompson.

They ended nearly miraculously.

Thompson, the world’s No. 2 player, put herself in a huge void leading off the singles matches Sunday for Team USA at the Solheim Cup. Thompson was missing short putts, dropping each of the first four holes to Team Europe’s Anna Nordqvist.

Rumblings questioning U.S. captain Juli Inkster’s strategy of stacking the top of her lineup were audible. Could the Red, White and Blue let their sizable lead slip away? Would Thompson set an ominous tone for the Americans?

The 22-year-old Thompson showed the type of moxie that makes her such a force on the LPGA Tour. She fired an incredible 7 under on the back side, halving the match against all odds. Her 2-over effort on the front was but a memory.

“That was the weirdest round of golf I’ve ever played,” Thompson said. “The front nine I don’t think I was awake. And the back nine I just played lights out. Being 4-down going into the back nine, I was just, like, I just have to go all in and go for it all. And that’s what I did.”

Thompson chipped away at Nordqvist’s lead, making it clear at the par-5 11th hole that she would not go quietly. Thompson, crushed her drive, then holed out her approach from 112 yards for eagle to pull within two. The oft-stoic Thompson smiled widely.

Thompson gestured to the Des Moines Golf and Country Club crowd walking up the 13th fairway, urging them to get loud after sticking her approach. She banged home a birdie to close within one.

A clutch birdie putt at 14 kept the drama at fever pitch.

Then came a 30-foot bomb at the par-5 15th for eagle. The perfect touch. Nordqvist’s eagle putt lipped out. All square.

“The way she turned it around, I mean, I hit it to, what, 3 feet on 11 and she ends up making for eagle,” Nordqvist said. “And I hit a great shot into 15, after we tied 14, made a good putt there. Didn’t quite expect her to make that putt and mine ended up lipping out.”

Thompson grabbed the lead at 16, calmly draining another birdie. Fist pump. Arms held high. Striking.

She left her tee shot at the par-3 17th short. Nordqvist too missed the green. Both made bogey.

This crazy match was destined to go the distance.

Thompson and Inkster walked down the 18th fairway in unison, the captain’s arm draped over her top player’s shoulder.

Thompson placed her approach within 12 feet. Nordqvist, showing her own steely nerves, knocked hers within inches. Birdie putt conceded.

Thompson’s attempt at 18 didn’t fall. That didn’t diminish what she accomplished.

“That felt like six points,” Inkster said. “It was probably fittingly they both got half a point — they both played amazing. Lexi started off slow, but it just shows the heart of her and determination. You think maybe she’s out of it and then the switch goes off. That’s a big half point for the U.S. team.”

A banner day and a repeat Solheim Cup victory for the USA started with Thompson’s incredible rally.

“It’s great,” Thompson said. “Just to be here in general, it’s a huge honor to represent my country. But to be first off, first match, it means a lot. I wanted to win that full point, but struggled a bit. But I fought strong for my country. That’s all I could do.”

That was enough.

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