LAS VEGAS (AP) — Lexi Thompson kept a rough round from getting worse and wound up holding her own Thursday in the Shriners Children’s Open until darkness kept her from finishing.
Beau Hossler set the pace by matching his career low on the PGA Tour with a 9-under 62, which included a tee shot that found the water left of the par-3 17th at the TPC Summerlin.
Thompson was the main attraction of this FedEx Cup Fall event, the seventh woman to play a PGA Tour event and the first in five years.
She was 1-over par for her round through 16 holes and chose to mark her ball — a 20-foot par putt on the 17th — and return to finish the first round in the morning. Still in play was a chance to make the cut, though it was hard work to keep her score around par.
“I played decent,” Thompson said. “I had one bad hole and a few iffy shots. But it’s golf; it was kind of expected.”
Thompson took advantage on two of the par 5s for birdie, and she got a bonus with a birdie putt from inside 25 feet on the second hole that at least put her in red numbers. But through 17 holes, she had only five chances inside 20 feet.
It looked as through this round could get away from her on the front nine. She was even par when she came up short of the green on par-4 seventh and had 12 feet for par. She ran that about 4 feet by and missed that to make double bogey.
On the par-3 eighth, she came up well short in the rough, chipped about 25 feet by the hole and left her par putt 6 feet short. Facing another double bogey, she made that to limit the damage. Then, she drilled a 3-wood on the par-5 ninth that rolled on the firm fairway just onto the green to set up a two-putt birdie from 30 feet.
“I knew I could get a birdie as long as I hit that fairway,” Thompson said. “I knew I could get 3-wood up close to the front of the green and make birdie there. Hit a good drive and just really stayed committed to that 3-wood. Tried to make eagle, but definitely take a birdie.”
She didn’t make another bogey the rest of the way, though she had limited chances at birdies, missing from 8 feet on the 12th and leaving an 8-foot putt short on the par-5 16th.
When play was suspended by darkness, she was in a tie for 76th.
Thompson wound up getting the good end of the draw even though she played late. The start of the round was met by strong wind and chilly temperatures. The air warmed and the wind died for the afternoon, making TPC Summerlin a little more manageable.
J.T. Poston had a 63 in the morning in the tougher conditions. Hossler, who also had a 62 in the final round of the 3M Open this year, looked particularly sharp in the afternoon. He missed only two greens and took advantage of the chances he had.
“Every part of my game felt good,” Hossler said. “To shoot that low you’ve got to have looks. Some fairly stress-free birdies is nice.”
His one mistake didn’t bother him. The pin was cut toward the left on the 17th, and it slopes severely down a slope toward the water. After his tee shot found the hazard, Hossler was able to drop near the green and got away with a simple up-and-down for bogey. Then he holed a short birdie putt on the 18th for his 62.
Cameron Champ had a 63 in the afternoon, while Davis Thompson and Lanto Griffin were at 64. Ten players were at 66 or better on a course where scores typically are low.
That adds to Lexi Thompson’s challenge in the morning, when she has a putt on the 17th green, plays the 18th hole and then starts her second round.
In the last 70 years, Michelle Wie was the closest to making the cut among women who’ve played the PGA Tour. She missed by one at the Sony Open in 2004 when she was 14 and a freshman in high school.
Thompson brought a white golf bag to the tournament and had kids from the Shriners Children’s Hospital write messages on it. The sponsor exemption only came together in the last two weeks, and Thompson said her hope this week was to be an inspiration to children.
“Shriners does amazing things for these kids, so I’m happy to be out here and supporting them in any way I can,” she said.
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