LEXI THOMPSON NEAR THE TOP ONCE AGAIN AT PELICAN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Lexi Thompson has been knocking all season. With three runner-up results in 2022 and four additional top-10 finishes, it’s hard to believe the 11-time LPGA Tour champion hasn’t earned a victory on Tour since 2019. In fact, since the 2020 season began Thompson has recorded more top-10 finishes without a win (17) than any other player on Tour, according to KPMG Performance Insights.
It has been a frustrating drought for the 27-year-old, but her victory at the LET’s Aramco Team Series - New York, her first professional win since the 2019 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer, gave Thompson the validation she’s been working tirelessly to achieve.
“It really helped my confidence to win at the Aramco Team Series. I've been busting my butt on the practice facilities and in the gym. I've been putting in the time and the hard work,” Thompson said. “I've been close a few times and hasn't worked out in my favor, so to be able to get that win and have the hard work pay off, that means the most to me, because I know how much I put into it.”
Four weeks later, Thompson is determined to carry her momentum into the Pelican Women’s Championship presented by Raymond James and Konica Minolta, where she finished T2 in 2021 after losing to Nelly Korda in a four-person playoff. Even Hurricane Nicole, which made play impossible on Thursday and shortened the event to 54 holes, didn’t slow the major champion down. She said she spent the day “doing jumping jacks and jumping squats in my room… making sure I'm mentally staying there.”
The nearly 5 inches of rain that fell on Pelican Golf Club didn’t affect Thompson either. She shot a 6-under 64 during Friday’s opening round and put herself in a tie for second while playing surprisingly less aggressive than usual.
“You can be a little bit more aggressive (on this course). Actually, when it was firmer the last few days but it was a lot windier, so I would take a lot more drivers the last few days than I did today,” she said. “Today with the lack of wind I actually had to lay back even though there was no roll.”
Thompson hit 13 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens on Friday and needed 29 putts to finish the round. She ended her day with a 2-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No. 18 after hitting her tee-shot dangerously close the water and recovering with a perfect wedge from 105 yards. The highlight of her round was an eagle on the par-5 No. 7, which she added to the scorecard along with five birdies and a bogey.
“I hit a good drive. It's a tough driving hole, and then I had about 215 to the pin and a little down, left-to-right wind, and I hit a 2-iron to about 30 feet and kind of lipped it in,” she said of her eagle. “Didn't know if it was going to lip out or not, but got lucky and it went in.”
CARLOTA CIGANDA HAS BIG DAY AT PELICAN DESPITE ANKLE INJURY
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda saw all 18 holes of Pelican Golf Club for the first time during Friday’s opening round of the Pelican Women’s Championship presented by Raymond James and Konica Minolta. With a bogey-free 64 to show for that first full trip, Ciganda absolutely raved about a course that survived nearly 5 inches of rain courtesy of Hurricane Nicole.
“I don't play that much in Florida, but, I mean, I love the course. I think it's in unbelievable shape, one of the best courses I ever played,” said Ciganda, whose 64 is tied for the second-lowest score of her LPGA Tour career. “Like the fairways, the greens are rolling really nice, and especially after the storm yesterday and all the rain that we had. And I think it's a great setup. You can pretty much hit it everywhere off the tee, and then it's a second-shot golf course. The greens are pretty undulating, so you have to be in the right spot.”
Ciganda’s sparkling round was even sweeter considering the bright blue tape wrapped around her left ankle. Ciganda stepped awkwardly last Sunday at the TOTO Japan Classic, slipping on some wet grass and severely rolling her ankle. After wrapping it tightly to survive the long intercontinental flight from Japan to Florida, Ciganda took it easy the first few days at Pelican, with nine pro-am holes her only on-course action. Thursday’s rain-out day was actually a blessing, giving the two-time LPGA Tour winner extra time to let the ankle heal before it had to face a full 18-hole test.
“I can walk pretty normal. Few of the hills I can feel a little bit the outside of the ankle, but, I mean, I think we are athletes,” she said. “When I think about this I think about Rafa Nadal, all the pain he's been through and how he plays, how he competes, and I'm sure this is nothing compared to what everything he's been through. So I think you have to be a little bit mentally tough and just compete and play.”