Michelle Wie West, Brittany Lincicome and Lexi Thompson shouldn’t be one-offs whether they make the cut or not. Let’s make this gesture a regular offer…
It’s been an intense four-week stretch for Lexi Thompson.
After playing a crucial role for Team USA at the Solheim Cup, she made consecutive top-10s in Arkansas and Texas on the LPGA Tour.
Thompson then arrived in Las Vegas for her PGA Tour debut, teeing it up with the men at the Shriners Children’s Open.
The bright spotlight brought media duties, as well as opportunities to meet children which the tournament proudly benefits and run golf clinics and lessons.
She had her golf bag signed by young fans who now have memories that will last a lifetime.
One message written on her golf bag in blue writing said, “Fight through the battle, even with the disability life gives you.”
Thompson’s presence in Vegas was worth it for this alone.
Thompson said she’s “always wanted to be out on a PGA Tour event,” but even weeks full of excitement and anticipation can be plagued by fatigue.
“I’m tired. I’m very tired,” she said after round two. “I felt it last night, and then I knew it was a quick turnaround, so I was like, all right, go to bed, just try to get seven hours.
“But this is what I play for,” she added. “This is why I work out and what I train for. I’m definitely tired. I’m looking forward to the three weeks of downtime.”
The 28-year-old wasn’t in the mood for excuses and she showed this with her impressive play in Nevada.
It is never dull tuning into Thompson. Her flamboyant swing and follow-throughs are reminiscent of Arnold Palmer, or Scottie Scheffler for fresher-faced fans.
It was fun to watch one of the women’s game’s biggest stars manufacture shots around a PGA Tour setup, which she admitted was one of the biggest challenges she faced.
“On the golf course, probably just some of the pin locations,” she said. “They tuck them very close to the edges to where you have to hit high shots and carry it and be able to stop it within two bunkers or a narrow part of the green.
“I would say that was the biggest part because I don’t get it as far down as the guys, so I have a little bit longer of a shot. But I took my medicine and just hit to the fatter part of the green and gave myself a 25-, 30-footer and just made par on those kind of holes.”
How did she play?
Watching the major champion navigate her way around TPC Summerlin was thoroughly enjoyable and fascinating.
Her first-round 73 proved costly. Thompson carded an impressive 2-under 69 on Friday to finish level-par for the week, three shots behind the cutline.
This was a deep one as cuts go on the tour. Si Woo Kim, Jimmy Walker and Russell Knox were just a couple of names that Thompson eclipsed despite failing to make the weekend.
Through 11 holes of the second round, Thompson was sitting pretty on two-under for the event and in the ascendancy. But two late bogeys ended her chances of playing on Saturday.
It wasn’t the outcome she wanted, but there seems no reason why Thompson, or any LPGA Tour star, couldn’t play the weekend on the PGA Tour if they were allowed four or five shots at it.
One spin doesn’t represent what Thompson could achieve.
“Coming into the week I knew it would be a lot,” she said.
“But that’s why I have my family here, my loved ones, and to have that balance – once I left here, I was shut off and just myself and I could relax as much as I wanted to.”
What has been achieved?
Did the participation of young women in golf increase when Michelle Wie West and Brittany Lincicome played on the PGA Tour?
Inspiration is a figure that’s hard to quantify, but if tour events genuinely want to back the narrative of positively impacting the sport by inviting women to play, then we need to see results.
At the same time, it’s important not to be naive.
The Shriners Children’s Open likely invited Thompson to play in an effort to increase viewership for an event that would usually be neglected by golf fans, with very few big names in the field.
So we’re in limbo.
As great as it was to watch the coverage of the last few days, this movement (if you can call it that) needs to gather momentum if it is to go beyond a token gesture.
How about allowing the Race to the CME Globe winner to play in the Sentry Tournament of Champions? Or invite each women’s major winner of the year just gone to play in the bigger PGA Tour weeks?
Unrealistic ideas, sure. Men’s players will occupy all the spots in events with the biggest payouts and prestige.
But to prove the cynics wrong, this strategy needs to be adopted on a regular basis if the tour is real about inspiring women’s golfers.
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