Top-ranked American Lexi Thompson returned to the LPGA Tour this week after a two-week break. Thompson played five weeks in a row prior to the much-needed time off, she said the first week she completely put away her clubs and focused on resting before amping back up her practice last week.
This week in her sixth appearance at the Marathon Classic, the well-rested Thompson is off to a fast start as the 11-time LPGA winner will head into the weekend at 9-under par, two shots behind leader Sei Young Kim.
“I like to think it's the hard work I've put into it,” Thompson said of her 66-67 start. “I've been working extremely hard just on my game in general. At the same time, off the golf course I've been trying to be a normal 24-year old, relaxing and having fun with friends and family and making sure I get that down time. It's very much needed, and I think that's helped my overall mindset on and off the golf courses.”
While she hits more 3-woods than drivers, Thompson said she loves the challenge Highland Meadows Golf Club presents off the tee and the fan support outside of the ropes.
“That's one thing I always say coming here to Toledo. You always get a great fan base, and that's what we want. We want to grow the game and see women's golf grow. It's great to see.”
KUPCHO CLIMBS LEADERBOARD IN A PLACE SHE’S COMFORTABLE
It’s been a year of firsts for 2019 LPGA rookie Jennifer Kupcho, but this week is a different story at the Marathon Classic presented by Dana. As the 2018 NCAA Individual Champion, Kupcho earned an exemption into the 2018 event where she took full advantage of her opportunity as she finished a career-best T16.
This week, Kupcho returns to Highland Meadows Golf Club making her sixth start as an LPGA Member and her past experience has paid off as she heads into the weekend at 9-under par and tied for third.
“I love this course,” Kupcho said. “Even walking in the practice rounds I just looked at it and I was like, Wow, I love being here. It's just a great place, and I really like being able to come out here and be like, Oh, I know where everything, where the driving range and everything like that is. It's just more of a comfort thing for me.”
The inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur champion tied her career-best round of 66 on Friday and said she’s finally seeing her game come together.
“I'm hitting the ball really good this week, reading the putts well, and putting good rolls on them. Obviously walking off 17 and 18, two par-5s to finish you expect to get at least one. Left 17 short and just pushed 18's putt. It's a little upsetting, but it's exciting to see that I can do it and hopefully play well tomorrow.”
CIGANDA BATTLES FATIGUE
This week the LPGA Tour is at the eighth event of a 12-week stretch this summer and players are feeling it. Carlota Ciganda arrived at Highland Meadows Golf Club on Tuesday and was not feeling up to par but still managed to pull off a first-round 66 and then followed up with a second-round 68 on Friday. Ciganda heads into the third round at -8, just three strokes off Sei Young Kim’s lead.
“To be honest, I was really tired starting on Tuesday, and I pulled out of the pro-am because when I woke I had a headache and I wasn't feeling very good,” said the 29-year-old Spaniard. “But then I was like just try your best. I had no expectations yesterday, just to try to play my best. Yesterday I just started very well hitting like 70, 80%; today the same.”
Ciganda is playing in her fourth consecutive event and has played seven of the last eight weeks with a top-10 finish and a top-15 finish in her last two starts, including a T6 finish at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G and a T15 at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic.
“To be honest, I didn't think I was going to play very good this week. It's golf, and I think I didn't think too much about the results so I'm happy to be where I am. I'm just happy to play and post a good number,” said Ciganda.
LAST CHANCE TO QUALIFY FOR THE AIG WOMEN’S BRITISH OPEN
The Marathon Classic presented by Dana is the final opportunity for LPGA players to earn a full exemption into the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open. After 72 holes, the top five LPGA Members that are not already exempt into the field will earn a spot into the season’s fifth major; provided they indicated to officials prior to the start of play that they would like to enter into the AIG Women’s British Open qualifier. In the event of a tie for the fifth position, the player ranked highest on the LPGA Official Money List as of the first round of the Marathon Classic will be the qualifier for the 2019 AIG Women’s British Open.
Through the second round in Sylvania the following players would punch their tickets to the major championship: Jennifer Kupcho, Youngin Chun, Christina Kim, Cheyenne Knight and Tiffany Joh.
Players will be competing on the Marquess’ Course at Woburn Golf Club in Buckinghamshire, England this year, competing for a share of the $4.5 million purse, a $1.25 million purse increase announced by the R&A earlier this week.
CME GROUP CARES CHALLENGE – SCORE 1 FOR ST. JUDE
The CME Group Cares Challenge is a season-long charitable giving program that turns aces into donations. CME Group will donate $20,000 for each hole-in-one made on the LPGA Tour in 2019, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $500,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras made a hole-in-one on No. 8 from 122 yards using a 9-iron on Friday at the Marathon Classic. There are now 18 aces recorded this season and a total of $360,000 raised thus far.
Rolex Rankings No. 12 Sei Young Kim (67-64)
- Her score of 131 is her best 36-hole Marathon Classic scoring record; she previously shot 138 in 2015
- She hit 10 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens with 27 putts
- Kim is in her fifth year on the LPGA Tour; she eight wins in her career with her most recent win at the 2019 LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship
- This is Kim’s 15th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she has two additional top-10 finishes including a runner-up finish at the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open
- Kim is competing in her third Marathon Classic; she finished T14 in 2015 and T53 in 2018
- Kim represented Republic of Korea in the 2016 Rio Olympics, finishing T25
- She won the 2015 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award, capturing three victories in her rookie season
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Jeongeun Lee6 (66-66)
- She hit 9 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
- Lee6 is making her first start at the Marathon Classic
- Lee6 is a 2019 LPGA Tour rookie; she earned her Membership by taking medalist honors at the 2018 LPGA Q Series
- Lee6 became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open
- This is Lee6's 14th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; along with her major win she has five additional top-10 finishes
- She uses a 6 at the end of her last name as she is the sixth player named Jeongeun Lee6 in KLPGA history; her fan club in Korea is called "Lucky 6"
- Lee6 is also a member of the KLPGA Tour, where she has six career victories
- Lee6 currently leads the Rolex Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year standings with 889 points
- Defending champion Jasmine Suwannapura heads into the weekend T64 at even
- Monday qualifier Jessica Porvasnik (-2, 140), who is from Ohio, made the cut
- 77 players made the cut, which fell at 1-over par
- Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings projections show that no player can overtake No. 1 Sung Hyun Park and No. 2 Jin Young Ko this week
- Lizette Salas withdrew from the Marathon Classic before Round 2