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Lexi Thompson flirts with PGA Tour history at Shriners Children's Open, misses cut

Thompson was trying to become first woman to make a PGA cut since 1945

Lexi Thompson looked like she was on the cusp of a historic weekend in Las Vegas.

She was right on the edge of the cutline late in her second round at the Shriners Children's Open, but a couple of late bogeys likely sunk her chances.

She was just the seventh women to compete in a PGA Tour event and was trying to be the first one to make a PGA cut since 1945, when Babe Didrikson Zaharias did it twice. Zaharias is the only woman to accomplish the feat.

Thompson finished at even par after she carded a 69 for her second round, following a 73 in Round 1. The cut ended up at 3-under. Cameron Champ and Lanto Griffin are co-leaders at 12-under after two rounds.

Thompson is just the second woman to finish a round in the 60s on the PGA Tour after Michelle Wie West carded 68 two separate times at the Sony Open.

"Just to be able to come here and follow my dreams, something that I've wanted to do, playing against my brothers growing up," Thompson told ESPN after the round. "And all the guys were so welcoming, so I'm grateful for that."

For a while, it looked like she had the weekend in her sights.

After starting on the 10th tee at TPC Summerlin and putting together a strong first nine, she carded back-to-back birdies on holes 1 and 2 to put her at 2-under with seven holes to play. At the time, that looked like it was going to put her above the projected cut.

But trouble came on the par-3 fifth, when she hit her drive into the penalty area well right of the green. That resulted in a bogey, and she followed with another bogey on the par-3 eighth.

While she came up short of of the cutline, Thompson was in high spirits after the round after being followed by a large gallery, including several kids, throughout Thursday and Friday in Vegas.

"It's the best feeling, just seeing the amount of kids that were out there screaming, 'Lexi, Lexi. Go, Lexi,'" Thompson said. "It makes me tear up sometimes because that's what I play for, to inspire these little kids, boys and girls, to just get a club in their hand or just follow their dreams, whether it's golf or anything in life."

Lexi Thompson held her own this week in her PGA Tour debut at the Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)
Lexi Thompson held her own this week in her PGA Tour debut at the Shriners Children's Open at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images) (Orlando Ramirez via Getty Images)

Thompson was invited to play this week as a sponsor's exemption. While the 28-year-old hasn't won on the LPGA Tour since 2019 and is the 25th-ranked woman in the world, she's known for being one of the longer hitters on tour. That makes her uniquely qualified to play in a men's tournament, where the tee boxes are set up significantly farther back compared to women's events.

She easily held her own playing from the PGA tees, with an average driving distance of 300.75 yards this week. The average distance on the PGA Tour for the 2022-23 season was 299.8.

She's also a well-known name in the sport after she made history by becoming the youngest player to ever qualify for the U.S. Women's Open at age 12 in 2008. She recorded her first LPGA victory at age 16, which made her the youngest-ever winner on tour at the time. That was the first of her 11 LPGA wins, including one major title at the 2014 Chevron Championship.

Thompson's invite was also made, in part, to add intrigue to the tournament.

"I think having Lexi in the field and on the broadcast, it’s only going to bring more eyes to the broadcast, which will bring more eyes to the golfers who are here and the golfers’ sponsors that are on their shirts and hats and bags," Shriners executive director Patrick Lindsey told Golf Magazine earlier this week. "Everyone should be looking at this from a very positive standpoint because we’re bringing more eyes to the players, Shriners, the city, the golf course, all of it.”

Thompson is the first woman to play in a PGA tournament since Brittany Lincicome did so at the Barbasol Championship in 2018. Before that, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley, Wie West and Zaharias were the only other women to play on the top men's tour.