Solheim Cup is a chance for Lexi Thompson to lead

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Solheim Cup is a chance for Lexi Thompson to lead

Solheim Cup

Solheim Cup is a chance for Lexi Thompson to lead

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GLENEAGLES, Scotland – Lexi Thompson doesn’t consider herself to be a leader on the American team. Perhaps it’s time that changed.

Thompson, of course, is the top-ranked U.S. player. It’s been that way for some time now. She’s never going to be the most vocal or the one to spearhead group text messaging (that’s Morgan Pressel).

“We all want to gel as a team as best we can,” said Thompson, “so we don’t want to overpower anybody. It’s all about just coming together as a team and not being an individual focusing just on ourselves.”

That’s certainly admirable. It is a week of we rather than me.

But captain Juli Inkster is hoping for a little bit more from Thompson, and who can blame her? There are six rookies on the team, and Thompson is one of only three players who have competed on foreign soil.

“You don’t really need to be vocal,” said Inkster. “I think If she says something at the right time, people will listen.”

A close up of the glove and ball of Lexi Thompson at the 2019 Solheim Cup at Gleneagles. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

SOLHEIM CUP: Tee times | Photos | Series results

Players watch what Thompson does, too.

This week Thompson is without her trusty partner Cristie Kerr, with whom she compiled a 4-0-2 record at the Solheim. On Friday morning, Thompson will be the veteran leading around Brittany Altomare. Thompson will be the more expressive player. The more experienced.

“I think it’s time for Brittany Altomare, or whoever it may be, to lean on Lexi a little bit rather than figuring out who’s going to have Lexi’s back,” said two-time Solheim Cup captain Judy Rankin. “And I think it’s time for that. And I think that’s good for her. I really do.”

Altomare is the coolest of customers and sticks out in her pod of bombers. Jessica and Nelly Korda rank eighth and 12th, respectively, in driving distance on the LPGA while Thompson is fifth.

Altomare comes in at 104th.

“I was making a joke that I’m the shortest hitter by a mile in this group,” said Altomare, “and (Nelly’s caddie Jason McDede) was like “It’s OK, have you ever seen Jesus putt? You putt like Jesus.’ ”

The divine nickname stuck.

“It’s just remarkable,” said Thompson of Altomare’s putting and touch around the greens. “She hit a shot today from 60 yards out of the rough and it was like a flop shot to a foot.”

Thompson likes the way their games and personalities complement each other.

The rookie likes how the Solheim Cup has given her a chance to get to know her fellow pros on a deeper level.

“(Lexi) is a lot more outgoing,” said Altomare. “She’s super-friendly, easy to talk to. She jokes around all the time. I feel like you don’t get that with her when you’re on the golf course, but I really appreciated that off the golf course.”

Inkster said she didn’t initially think of Thompson and Altomare as a potential pairing, but when Stacy Lewis withdrew, the captain did a little shifting.

Thompson actually played with Altomare in Canada and told Inkster after the round: “She can play.”

Inkster asked Thompson how she’d feel about playing with Altomare.

“I’d play with her in a heartbeat,” Thompson replied.

And with that, a new chapter begins.

TV schedule

Times listed are ET

Friday, 3 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Golf Channel

Saturday, 3 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Golf Channel

Sunday, 6:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., Golf Channel

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