Officially, the duo of Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau finished seventh in the 12-team field at the QBE Shootout on Sunday. Unofficially, the pairing won the week at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Fla., at least judging by the buzz they created.
Or should we say the buzz that Thompson, the lone female in the field, drew with her power game.
“She hits the ball incredibly, and she made a lot of putts, which took a lot of pressure off me,” said Finau on Friday after the first round, when the pair posted a 11-under 61 in a scramble format to sit two strokes off the lead.
Thompson and Finau played with Harold Varner III and Bubba Watson, who were also wowed by Thompson’s game. Specifically her length off the tee.
“She hammered it off the first hole, he goes, ‘Oh gosh.’ ” Watson said of Varner’s reaction. He continued to
throw his partner under the bus talk about Varner’s surprise at Thompson’s play.
“No. 9, she hit a good one on 9. You were like, ‘Oh my gosh, she outdrove me.’ ”
“I mean, I’m surprised she didn’t,” Varner said. “She hits it really well.”
Thompson’s ability to keep up with Varner didn’t go unnoticed by those watching the competition from afar. According to Watson, he and Varner received a text from “the Presidents Cup captain”—that would be Tiger Woods—that asked: “How many times did Lexi outdrive Harold?”
“What a nice guy,” Varner said tongue in cheek.
Varner insisted that Thompson never actually did outdrive him (he averaged more than 308 yards off the tee in 2018, 18th on the PGA Tour), but on Saturday, Charley Hoffman was caught red-handed. He and Gary Woodland were playing with Thompson and Finau in a modified alternate-shot format. For most of the day, Hoffman’s drives went 10-15 yards past Thompson’s. But on the 18th hole, Hoffman was walking down the fairway and walked past a ball he assumed was Thompson’s, but was actually his. Finau saw this and couldn’t help but poke fun at Hoffman asking him what he was doing.
“Charley just walks past Lexi’s ball as if, ‘Hey, I already know I outdrove her.’ ” Finau said. “I kind of yell at him, ‘Charley, do you want me to pick your ball up?’ I was standing by Lexi’s ball, and he starts rushing his ball. He looks back and just starts shaking his head. That was quite a funny exchange.”
This is Thompson’s third year playing in the two-person team event, and she was appreciative of getting the chance to compete with the PGA Tour pros once again.
“It’s a huge honor,” Thompson said on Sunday. “It’s a great event. I grew up with two older brothers and playing with the guys, it’s pretty remarkable … just watching their games and the shots they can hit. And playing with Tony, he hits it forever off the tee and so straight. So I was just kind of learning out there. playing my own game but just learning.