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SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. – Finishing her opening round with a bang, Lexi Thompson, again, finds herself in contention at the U.S. Women's Open.
Thompson birdied the par-4 eighth, her final hole of the day at Pine Needles, to cap off a 3-under 68 Thursday, which has her three shots off Ingrid Lindblad's lead.
“It was overall just a very steady day,” said Thompson, who began her round on the ninth hole, which is used as a starting point because of course routing. “A U.S. Women's Open championship, sometimes you just have to aim away from pins, take your pars, and get off the hole, and it's all about patience.”
The 27-year-old repeatedly had 15-30-footers for birdie and displayed impeccable speed control, leaving herself tap-in par putts. She was also precise from tee to green, hitting 13 out of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. Two of those missed greens were on the fringe.
After playing her first 10 holes in 1 under, Thompson created some magic on the par-5 first.
Full-field scores from the U.S. Women’s Open
“Had 230 [yards] to the pin. Hit a 2-iron and it landed perfectly, right into the first cut and kind of killed the speed off it," she detailed. "Ended up about 20 feet short and made the putt. It was going a little firm, but I made it.”
Thompson finished her day with one eagle, two birdies and a lone bogey.
Memories of Thompson's difficult finish last year at The Olympic Club, where she shot 41 on the back nine to miss a playoff by a shot, linger. But Thompson is set on not letting that affect her performance at Pine Needles.
"As far as last year, it's over with. It's this year, and I took it, I learned from it, and I moved on,” Thompson said.
And rather than seeking revenge for last year's collapse, Thompson is motivated by the current state of her game.
“I've just been trying to focus on my own game and my emotions. That's all I can control," she said, "but I know my game has been in a good spot.”