Between a change to her putting grip and return to her old coach Jim McLean, Lexi Thompson is back in a groove. After an opening-round 70, Thompson caught fire this afternoon with a bogey-free, 5-under 67 performance to sit tied for third heading into the weekend at the ANA Inspiration.
Those tweaks to her game prior to venturing to Riverside County seem to have made a big difference for the 2014 ANA Inspiration champion.
“I wasn't too happy with how I played in Ohio even though I had some decent finishes and didn't hit it so well at the (AIG Women’s Open),” said Thompson. “I wanted to get more comfortable over my tee shots, go back to hitting it up the right side of the fairway and drawing it. I worked with Jim for about a week before I left (for the ANA Inspiration). He knew my swing better than anybody growing up, so I was like, let's just go back to maybe old Lexi and see him and we changed a few things. It was good, helped me a lot.
“He has a lot of videos, lot of notes and it was great to see. I worked with him when I was 12 or younger, so it was great to see those old swing videos. Basically, what I saw is a lot of people always notice my foot movement and how I get off the ground, and when I was little it might have been even more than it is now. There was no restriction, I just hit it hard and got off the ground and I knew it was going up the right and turning back. Kind of getting to that, like that confidence, is what I've kind of changed.”
Since her debut at the ANA Inspiration in 2009 as an amateur, Thompson has not missed a cut across 11 starts, with a win and five total top-10 results. Thompson will look to continue using her length off the tee to her advantage with 36 holes remaining at Mission Hills Country Club.
“I would definitely say it's an advantage, especially if you do miss the fairway you can get it down there a little bit closer and have a little bit shorter of a shot out of the rough,” Thompson said. “The greens are firmer so it's definitely a little bit of an advantage to have a shorter shot in to these greens and some of the tucked locations. I would say keeping it in the fairway here is the biggest thing with how deep the rough is.”
MIRIM LEE’S MESSAGE TO HERSELF: “YOU CAN DO IT”
“You’re doing great. Let’s endure some more work and hardship for just two more rounds.”
That bit of positive self-talk describes how three-time LPGA Tour winner Mirim Lee is pushing herself as she finds herself in contention for her first major title at this week’s ANA Inspiration. With a spectacular bogey-free 65 on Friday, Lee jumped 17 spots up the leaderboard and holds solo second heading into the weekend at Mission Hills.
Coming off the pandemic-related Tour shutdown, the South Korean player missed the cut at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. After Friday’s great round on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course, Lee finds herself back in her happy place, especially after a long time away from golf.
“When I was in Korea during the break, all I did was practice. It feels so good to be back out here and playing competitive golf,” said Lee, whose last win came at the 2017 Kia Classic. “I think that as long as I keep the feeling and momentum of these past few days, I’ll be able to get good scores.”