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Shriners Children's Open

Lexi Thompson holds her own against the men during first round in Vegas

October 12, 2023
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Michael Owens

When play was suspended due to darkness in Round 1 of the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas, sponsor’s invitation Lexi Thompson was ahead of 36 players on the leaderboard. She was also trending on Twitter.

In every respect, the 11-time LPGA winner easily justified her invitation to play at TPC Summerlin. She’s the seventh woman to tee up on the PGA Tour, following Babe Zaharias (1935-46), Shirley Spork (1952), Annika Sorenstam (2003), Suzy Whaley (2003) Michelle Wie West (2004-08) and Brittany Lincicome (2018).

Thompson was one over par through 16 holes, although she faced a 21-foot putt for par at the difficult par-3 17th Friday morning when play resumed. She missed the putt, making a bogey, before a par on the 18th had her finish up with a two-over 73. Beau Hossler was the first-round leader with a nine-under-par 62.

“I played decent. I had one bad hole and a few iffy shots,” Thompson said after play was called on Thursday. “But it's golf. It's been great this whole week. Everybody has been so welcoming and just a huge honor just to be able to tee it up here. The fans were amazing. So many people around that first tee and then following us those next few holes. There's more to it than just golf. Shriners does amazing things for these kids.”

Thompson found a fairway bunker from the first tee shot, where she said the nerves were comparable to the first tee at the recent Solheim Cup in Spain. Thompson went 3-1-0 for the U.S. “I had a little bit of nerves, but not too much. Kind of similar to Solheim, but that's what you play for.”

She handled those nerves well. Despite finding the fairway bunker at No. 1, the 28-year-old from Florida stuffed her approach to close range. Although she missed the birdie putt, Thompson found one at the next hole, where she hit a 304-yard drive and drained a 22-foot putt for a 3.

“That was a very special feeling,” she said. “I hit a great shot into one and probably hit one of my worst putts. I hit an amazing putt on No. 2, so it was nice to have a good stroke there and make birdie on a more difficult hole.”

Her round fell apart briefly over the next six holes, with a bogey at No. 3, a double bogey at No. 7, before another bogey at No. 8. But Thompson bounced back at the par-5 ninth, hitting a perfect drive and then a 255-yard fairway metal to reach the green in two. Her eagle putt just missed.

“I hit a good drive and just really stayed committed to that 3-wood,” she said. “I tried to make eagle, but definitely take a birdie.”

Thompson got another one back at the par-5 13th and rattled off three more pars before arriving at the 17th, where she missed the green and left her long bunker shot 21 feet from the hole.

“[The 195-yard tee shot] is definitely not the shot you want to wake up super early in the cold and hit that tee ball,” she said of being able to hit that before play was called. “But yeah. I'll see if I can make that putt tomorrow.”

She didn't make it, but felt good enough about the way she was playing that she was excited about returning to the course and seeing if she can make the cut. Her second-round tee time is 11:29 a.m. Eastern and she starts the round in a tie for 93rd.