Lexi Thompson: Warming up for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship

Lexi Thompson . Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Lexi Thompson . Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

Lexi Thompson is playing a new game of golf, more confident, more mature, ready for the Tour’s 2nd Major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Lexi Thompson is looking right now like a major champion who’s warming up her sticks for the next big LPGA show.

Thompson delivered a credible 5-under par 67 in her first round at the Manulife LPGA Classic that got her a share of the 9th spot on the board – alongside Ariya Jutanugarn, Angel Yin, In Gee Chun, and a few others – going into Friday’s second round.

Then Thompson turned it on and delivered a red hot, bogey-free 7-under par 65 and shot up to the top of the leaderboard on Friday afternoon. She’s not alone up there, going into the weekend at Whistle Bear at 12-under par. She’s sharing the overnight lead with Canada’s Alena Sharp and Hyo Joo Kim who are also enjoying very fine games at Whistle Bear, which historically gives up birdies with delightful regularity.

Nor is Thompson the only player to sign for a second round 65. Lindy Duncan, Bronte Law, Felicity Johnson, and Austin Ernst also recorded 65s on Friday.  So what’s unique and special about Lexi Thompson’s game this week? Simple. She’s playing like she’s on cruise control. She’s gliding effortlessly from one birdie to the next. Her flatstick isn’t her 14th club – it’s an organic extension of her body.

Take a look at Thompson’s 2nd round highlights. It’s those 24 putts that have me sitting up and taking notice. Lexi Thompson looks this week like she’s crossed her personal Rubicon.

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In three weeks Thompson will tee off at the Tour’s second major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She’ll be thinking, of course, about the other one, earlier this year, that slipped through her fingers, but she’s not the same devastated person who walked off the 72nd hole at Rancho Mirage.

Somewhere between Rancho Mirage and Olympia Fields Lexi Thompson has matured as an athlete and as an individual. She’s exuding confidence and she’s enjoying every minute of her performance.

The Manulife LPGA Classic may or may not be Lexi Thompson’s ninth Tour victory. That’s a matter that won’t be resolved for 36 more holes of play. But the Manulife has served as a proving ground for her emerging game that is showing all the signs of championship dominance. The second half of the LPGAs 2017 season could get very, very interesting!

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The Manulife LPGA Classic third round begins Saturday at 7:03am ET with Ilhee Lee playing solo. Lexi Thompson and Alena Sharp, playing in the final group, tee off at 12:50pm ET. Golf Channel coverage of the third round begins at 3pm ET.