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Lexi Thompson

‘Gimmick’ or growth? What to make of Lexi Thompson’s PGA Tour debut…

Is Lexi Thompson’s PGA Tour invitation a ‘gimmick’? Or could it be a crucial step towards inspiring generations to take up the game?

 

Lexi Thompson is set to take centre stage after receiving an invite to play in the Shriners Children’s Open.

Last week, PGA Tour player and Policy Board member Peter Malnati commented on Thompson’s bow on the US circuit:

“My gut reaction when I saw that was like the tournament reaching to try to get – just trying to drum up interest.

“I don’t think we’re going to need to resort to gimmicks to drum up interest – I shouldn’t have said that.

“I don’t know that having Lexi play is a gimmick, but I don’t think the tournaments are going to have to go to those kind of lengths to drum up interest and get storylines that they can sell because I think these events are actually going to have a lot of meaning.”

He may have backtracked, but did Malnati say what many people are thinking? Or could this be a huge step to inspire young women to take up golf?

The NCG team have some thoughts of their own:

Thompson will attract an audience during an otherwise dull time of the season

It’s a smart move by the Shriners Children’s Open, writes Matt Chivers, and it’s a testament to Lexi Thompson’s glittering career as a major champion and a regular Solheim Cup participant.

The chances of me watching this event have increased 10-fold because Thompson is playing, and not because of the tournament’s history or intrigue.

The motivation of the tournament’s sponsors to invite Thompson is to boost the event’s viewership in my view, rather than to increase participation and inspire younger generations to play.

Thompson has described it as “a once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to play on the PGA Tour. But it would be great if it happened more often.

This shouldn’t be the case if the tour is serious about encouraging female participation by inviting a women’s player to compete against men’s players.

It technically doesn’t matter as regardless of the event’s motivation, we’re going to see Lexi tee it up this week – a great image for the tour, if nothing else.

A ‘gimmick’ was perhaps a tough use of language by Malnati, and he did rearrange his words, but he said what many people were thinking.

Breaking through barriers and growing the game were likely secondary thoughts in the sponsor’s mind when strategising how to attract fans during a period many regard as the off-season.

lexi thompson pga tour

This will bring more coverage to the women’s game at a perfect time

We are just three weeks on from the biggest Solheim Cup in the history of golf. The addition of Lexi Thompson to the field for the Shriners is perfect timing, says Matt Coles.

In the United Kingdom, there was a 35% increase in viewership compared to the 2021 edition. Singles Sunday saw the fourth-highest women’s sport peak ever on Sky Sports, and the highest for a golf tournament.

US captain Stacy Lewis believed that a trick was missed with the back-to-back Solheim Cup and Ryder Cups, saying that they should have been marketed together.

Lexi came into form at Finca Cortesin after a difficult 2023, and this PGA Tour invite comes at the right time. She has had an incredible career, and it is crazy to think that she is only 28.

This opportunity provides the perfect platform for Thompson, the PGA Tour and the women’s game in general.

With this happening right after the Solheim Cup, no time is like the present to capitalise. More coverage is needed for both the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour, and this could be the right way to start.

This is a great thing for golf, and everyone watching should be hoping that she becomes just the second woman in PGA Tour history to make the cut.

Lexi Thompson: LPGA and PGA Tour star? Tell us if you’ll be tuning in this week with a post on X!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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