2023 Shriners Children’s Open: Lexi Thompson battles tough in PGA Tour debut with solid Round 1

by Joanne Miller

History was made on Thursday in Las Vegas as Lexi Thompson became the seventh woman to make an appearance on the PGA Tour at the 2023 Shriners Children’s Open. Thompson, a 28-year-old LPGA player, more than held her own against the men in her first 17 holes, sitting at 1-over par with play suspended due to darkness.

Thompson expressed some nerves before her first tee shot, but said it was similar to the nerves she felt during the Solheim Cup and that’s what she plays for. She had a strong start, reaching red figures early in her round, but faced some challenges in the middle portion of her front nine. However, Thompson remained focused and composed, finishing with a bogey-free, 2-under stretch from holes 9 to 16.

At the end of Thursday’s action, Thompson was in a share of 76th place. Despite being 1 over par, she outperformed several of her male competitors, including Tommy Gainey, Vijay Srinivasan, Stewart Cink, and Jimmy Walker. Thompson’s performance has turned heads, especially with her iron play. She ranks 38th in strokes-gained approach, gaining nearly a full stroke on the field with her scoring clubs. Only Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa averaged more than one stroke gained on approach per round in the 2023 season.

Thompson will face a crucial par putt on the par-3 17th when she resumes play on Friday morning. If she converts it, she could make even more history by becoming the first woman since Babe Zaharias in 1945 to make a 36-hole cut on the PGA Tour. With the projected cut line hovering between 1 and 2 under, Thompson has a chance to secure a spot in the weekend rounds.

While Thompson has faced some challenges off the tee and around the green in her first round, her strong iron play has set her apart. With a solid second round, she could secure a pair of weekend tee times and continue to make strides in the traditionally male-dominated sport.

Thompson’s performance at the 2023 Shriners Children’s Open has proven that women can compete at the highest level in professional golf. Her presence on the PGA Tour is not only historic but also inspiring, showing young girls that they can chase their dreams and compete with the best in the world. Thompson’s journey is far from over, and her success is sure to spark conversations and opportunities for more women in the sport.

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