Lexi Thompson, at age 18, is in contention to win her second LPGA Tour event today in the Marathon Classic. She is at 9-under 204 and trails co-leaders Paula Creamer and Beatriz Recari by three shots.
But she has already matched a feat believed to have been accomplished only once in LPGA-Highland Meadows Golf Club history.
Thompson had an eagle on the par-5 18th hole, which measures 532 yards from tournament tees, during Thursday’s first round. She came about 35 yards short of matching it Saturday after overnight rains took some roll off the ball and lengthened fairways.
“Actually, I was on the back fringe the first day,” Thompson said. “I hit a driver to the end of the fairway [above the drop-off to Ten Mile Creek] and then a pretty low 3-wood that ran good. Having any shot at it is a matter of placement, of getting it to the right place at the very end of the fairway.”
When asked if she was as big a hitter as Laura Davies, the English veteran of 25 pro seasons, Thompson said, “I’ve played with Laura quite a few times. She still hits it a little past me.”
ON THE BUBBLE: Whether looking at the points list that clinches the first eight spots or the world rankings that decide the next two, Jennifer Johnson is on the bubble for making the U.S. Solheim Cup team that will face Europe’s team on Aug. 13-18 near Denver.
The Marathon Classic is the next-to-last tournament that factors in both standings.
“It’s definitely in the back of my mind,” Johnson said after a 5-under 66 Saturday placed her in a tie for sixth at 8-under. “There’s maybe five players right there for [the last] four spots, so yeah, I’m doing what I can.”
She also knows team captain Meg Mallon, who has two captain’s selections, is at the Meadows this weekend observing play.
LOW SCORE: Angela Stanford was the runner-up in last summer’s final Jamie Farr Classic and is bidding for a top finish in the first Marathon Classic. She carded the low round of the week, a 7-under 64, Saturday and is tied for 11th, six shots off the lead.
JUST OFF MARK: About 30 years ago Toledoan Charles Horvath eagled the par-4 No. 18 at Highland Meadows, chipping in from roughly 149 yards out.
Horvath on Saturday stood on that same green, hoping to make another memory after winning a Blade contest with the chance to win $25,000 by sinking a 40-foot putt. Horvath, 64, missed to the right by an inch or two.
“I thought I had it at first,” he said. “It was going straight in, and just at the last second it kind of curved off to the right.”
Horvath received $500 anyway and plans to spend some of it to replace a clothes dryer that quit working Saturday morning.
FALLEN LEADER: Two of the three players tied for the lead after two rounds remained in the same position heading into today.
Then there was Alison Walshe.
While Paula Creamer and Beatriz Recari remained in a tie for first, Walshe fell from her perch to six shots off the lead with a 2-over 73 on Saturday. She is in a nine-way tie for 11th at 6-under.
Walshe, ranked 90th in the world, said it “just wasn’t her day.”
“Honestly, [the pressure] doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I’ve played with [Creamer and Recari] many times, so I was pretty comfortable out there.”
A CHALLENGE: The par-4 No. 1 hole at Highland Meadows has proven to be one of the more challenging holes of the tournament.
Through the Marathon Classic’s first two rounds, golfers bogeyed or double-bogeyed the first hole 93 times and birdied it 21 times. Only the par-4 No. 11 rivaled No. 1 — golfers bogeyed the hole 97 times and birdied it 18 times.
On Saturday, the remaining 72 golfers in the field bogeyed or double-bogeyed the No. 1 hole 16 times and eight birdied it, including co-leader Recari and Dewi Claire Schreefel, one of nine players tied for 11th going into today’s final round.
The No. 1 hole foiled one notable golfer.
Inbee Park, top-ranked player in the world, double-bogeyed No. 1 and dropped from a two-way tie for sixth to a six-way tie for 23rd.
During the 2012 tournament, 36 golfers finished under par on the hole, while 115 went over par, with a stroke average of 4.232.
Conversely, the par-5 17th hole had 155 players go under par in 2012, while 28 went over par, with a stroke average of 4.718.
— Ryan Autullo, Dave Hackenberg, David Briggs, and Rachel Lenzi