Lexi Thompson leads American surge in Round 2 of CME Championship

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Lexi Thompson leads American surge in Round 2 of CME Championship

LPGA Tour

Lexi Thompson leads American surge in Round 2 of CME Championship

NAPLES, Fla. – The leaderboard at the CME Group Tour Championship is awash in red, white and blue as American players occupy the first five spots. Eight Americans are in the top 12, including a couple of Korda sisters. And the name at the top of the board, well it’s none other than fan favorite Lexi Thompson, who birdied the last three holes at Tiburon Golf Club to take a three-shot lead over Brittany Lincicome and Amy Olson.

“It would mean the world to me,” said Thompson, of winning the season-ender. “… I’m just going to go out with the same attitude I did the last two days, take one shot at a time, and be confident out there.” 

Thompson, who recently went back to a Bettinardi putter, feels comfortable on Florida grass. She’s the only player in the field who hasn’t made a bogey this week. Thompson hit 13 of 14 fairways in the first two rounds and missed a total of two greens. 

After parting ways with caddie Kevin McAlpine earlier this month, Thompson asked brother Curtis to pick up the bag. Curtis competed on the Web.com Tour in 2018 but will be in playing in Canada next season. 

“Just before every shot, every putt he’s like, ‘Alright, just go ahead like you have been the last few days. Put a good swing on it, pound it out there, or hit it close,’” said Lexi. “He’s so confident out there, and that’s what I need.” 

Eight Americans have won on tour this season and four of those players are in the top nine at the CME: Jessica Korda, Nelly Korda, Lincicome and Marina Alex. 

Lincicome, winner of the season-opener in the Bahamas, stood at 13 under through 14 holes, in complete control of this event, until she played the last four holes in four over. 

“I was doing so great all day, and then all of a sudden it was just like small explosions in my putting stroke,” said Lincicome, who suffered a four-putt. 

The two-time major winner said she was so mad about losing her touch that she planned to bypass the practice putting green. 

“I just want to go home and take a shower and not remember the day,” she said. 

Amy Olson played in the final group on Sunday in two majors this year and followed up an opening 63 at CME with a lackluster 72. One day after everything seemed to fall in the center of the cup, Olson’s ball kept burning the edges. Not surprisingly, she remains positive. 

“You can’t make it happen,” said Olson. “You got to let it happen. When it’s your time, it’ll happen.” 

To have a list of eight different American winners in 2018 that does not include regular U.S. winners like Stacy Lewis, Cristie Kerr and Thompson shows a positive step on a tour that has seen 25 different winners this season. 

“Everyone always says we need more American players to do well,” said Lincicome, “but it’s not that we’re not doing well. It’s just this tour is so global and everybody is so darn good. We can’t get away with mediocre golf.” 

LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said on Friday that he didn’t realize that eight different Americans had won this year. 

Most are aware of the complaints made that Americans don’t win enough, but Whan said when U.S. players went on a tear in the first half of 2014 – winning 11 times in the first 17 starts ­– international TV partners weren’t exactly pleased. 

Whan has long insisted that business is good when the whole world wins. 

“I’m born in Chicago,” he said. “I’d like to see Americans win. I enjoyed the Solheim Cup in Des Moines. But I don’t think the tour is reliant on it.” 

Even so, five Americans in the top five on U.S. soil with Team USA’s brightest star leading the way sure sets up a compelling weekend.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home