LEXI THOMPSON KICKS IT INTO GEAR AT THE SHOPRITE LPGA CLASSIC
In 2010, Lexi Thompson made her professional debut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer and rolled up to the Seaview in the RedBull NASCAR racecar. Now making her first start at the tournament since 2015, Lexi rode the momentum of her U.S. Women’s Open Championship T2 finish by recording her season-best 18-hole score at -7.
“Last week was tough. It was just -- it's so intense and such a long week. It's very draining. A lot of people don't realize how long that week is with all the prep work going into it and then how long the rounds are and how tough the course plays,” said Thompson of the U.S. Women’s Open. “Coming here I took two days off and then I just practiced Wednesday, and I played my 18-hole pro-am yesterday and just went into today. It's working out for me so far.”
The 10-time LPGA Tour winner has been to the ShopRite LPGA Classic a previous six times, but has only made the cut twice. Her best performance was in 2012 where she finished T5. Thompson’s 64 today is her best single round score at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, and she knows how much of an advantage it is to be close to the leaderboard after the first round at this event.
“It is very important, especially a three-round tournament that usually scores go very low,” said Thompson. “It's important to put a good low number out the first day, so puts us in good position for the next two.”
LEE6 BACK WHERE SHE LEFT OFF
Coming off her maiden LPGA Tour victory at the U.S. Women’s Open Championship, Jeongeun Lee6 was the only one from the afternoon wave to crack the top of the leaderboard at the ShopRite LPGA Classic with an 8-under 63. A roller coaster round that included an eagle, nine birdies and three birdies, Lee6 said she thought she had a lot of good shots out on the course.
“I made a lot of putts. So that's why I had so many birdie chances. And also I did pretty good with the middle-length clubs,” said Lee6.
Despite some late afternoon winds, Lee6 said the weather did not get in the way of her play. “I try to remind myself just to make my shots, to think about the rhythms and everything and just to be consistent with all my shots and all my short game, and so that's what I've been focusing on, and so that's why I feel more confident. And then also I focus more on the putting, the green speed.”
Fans of the new major champion made their presence known in New Jersey, especially in the 17th green galleries, and Lee6 said it made her feel good going into the weekend. “I feel really surprised how people were -- it was so crowded, and the people out there on the stage, like they were wearing tee shirts, Lee6, so I was surprised about it, and I feel pretty happy and confident.”
PHATLUM RELAXES HER WAY TO THE TOP
Pornanong Phatlum blazed her way around the Bay Course on Friday morning needing just 25 putts for a season-best 8-under par 63. The Thai player walked off the course smiling and said: “I didn’t expect this.”
Phatlum finished her day by making an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole, this week’s Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole, which was playing 463-yards in the first round. She hit a 5-wood to reach the green in two, leaving herself a 12-foot putt for eagle, which she said she was able to make by not thinking of the stakes. “I think I just not put pressure [on] myself, so just almost straight putt, so it's like -- you know, like relaxed for me, and I make it.”
In 2018, Phatlum was a surprise leader at the AIG Women’s British Open playing in the final group with eventual champion and hometown favorite Georgia Hall. On Friday in Galloway, N.J., Phatlum said she learned a lot from her experience at the major and learned to focus on herself. She also said she drew confidence from her second top-20 finish of the season, a T16 finish at last week’s U.S. Women’s Open which helped her during round one on Friday.
“I feel like I get more confident after last week, and yeah, I tried to be like playing my game and not put pressure on myself, so it makes me more relaxed on the course, and yeah, more good result."
Rolex Rankings No. 55 Pornanong Phatlum (63)
- Phatlum’s 63 is her season-best 18-hole score, and her career-best ShopRite LPGA Classic 18-hole score. It ties her second-best career 18-hole score, which she previously recorded in 2013 at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
- She hit 8 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens with 25 putts
- Phatlum is in her 11th season on the LPGA Tour; her career-best finish is second which she most recently recorded at the 2018 AIG British Women’s Open
- She is competing in her seventh ShopRite LPGA Classic; her best finish was T16 in 2015
- This is Phatlum’s 12th event of the 2019 season; her best finish was T14 at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup
- Phatlum represented Team Thailand in the 2014, 2016 and 2018 UL International Crown and finished T25 at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Rolex Rankings No. 5 Jeongeun Lee6 (63)
- She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, with 26 putts
- 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 last week’s U.S. Women’s Open
- This is Lee6's 10th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; along with her major win she has three additional top-10 finishes and no finish worse than a tie for 26th
- 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 752 points
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Lexi Thompson (64)
- Thompson’s first-round 64 is her lowest round of the 2019 season; her career-best round was a final-round 61 at the 2017 Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic
- She hit 15 of 18 greens and 11 of 14 fairways, with 28 putts
- Thompson is in her eighth season on the LPGA Tour; she is a 10-time LPGA Tour winner, including a major title at the 2014 ANA Inspiration
- This is Thompson’s 10th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she’s coming off a season-best runner-up performance at the U.S. Women’s Open
- She is competing in her seventh ShopRite LPGA Classic; her best finish was T5 in 2012; she made her professional debut at this event in 2010
Rolex Rankings No. 76 Kristen Gillman (64)
- She hit 13 of 18 greens and 10 of 14 fairways, made five birdies and an eagle with just 26 putts
- Gillman is a 2019 LPGA Tour rookie; she finished T13 at the inaugural LPGA Q-Series to earn Priority List Category 14 status
- This is her 10th start of the 2019 season, she has made seven cuts with a season-best T6 finish at the ANA Inspiration
- Gillman is making her first appearance at the ShopRite LPGA Classic
- 2014 and 2018 U.S. Women's Amateur champion
- WGCA All-America in 2017 and 2018 for the University of Alabama
Rolex Rankings No. 410 Muni He (64)
- She hit 15 of 18 greens and 9 of 14 fairways with seven birdies in the first round
- He is a 2019 LPGA Tour rookie; she finished T27 at the inaugural LPGA Q-Series to earn Priority List Category 14 status
- This is her ninth start of the 2019 season, she’s looking to make her third cut of the year and to improve upon a season-best T42 finish at the Honda LPGA Thailand
- He is making her first appearance at the ShopRite LPGA Classic
- As a rookie on the Symetra Tour in 2018, made 16 of 21 cuts including a win at the Prasco Charity Championship
- She played one season at USC
Only four players in the history of the LPGA Tour have won the U.S. Women’s Open and the tournament after it: Louise Suggs (1952), Jane Geddes (1986), Se Ri Pak (1998), Meg Mallon (2004)
Lee6 and Phatlum’s first-round 63 is the lowest round of any player this season on a par-71 course
Players T7 or better represent seven different countries: Republic of Korea, Thailand, U.S., China, Japan, The Netherlands, Denmark
There were 16 eagles made on Friday; Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras led the field with two eagles on the par-5 fifth and ninth holes
Lee6 led the field on Friday with nine birdies
Five players were bogey-free on Friday: Lexi Thompson, Kristen Gillman, Muni He, Paula Creamer and Madelene Sagstrom
Defending champion Annie Park fired a 2-under par 69 on Friday; in 2018, she also opened with a 69