June 08, 2019: 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.”
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.”
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.”
A quadruple bogey at the first hole and a double at the next ended any hopes of Aditi Ashok making the weekend. She had begun her round at the 10th and was coasting along smoothly before the first and second destroyed her hopes.