When my friends tell me what they shot on the golf course, I honestly don’t care about the score. I don’t have any context for the wind, firmness, pin locations, etc. Plus, the round wasn’t played under any legitimate pressure. I’m happy to hear when a friend enjoys a day playing my favorite activity, but pencil marks on a scorecard are meaningless outside of accredited competition. They’re just numbers.
This week, sponsor exemption Lexi Thompson shot 73-69 at the Shriners Children’s Open. She didn’t walk away as the winner of the event, that would be Tom Kim, but Lexi’s performance had an impact. Her scores weren’t just numbers.
With five holes to play in her second round, Thompson had a legitimate chance to make the cut. She then bogeyed two of her last five holes, ultimately missing the weekend by three shots. She was nearly the first woman to make a cut in a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias in 1945. This wasn’t a fluke run, either. Lexi could have very easily played all four rounds of the Shriners. She didn’t play her two career-best rounds or hole every putt she looked at to stay within the mix. She actually left some shots on the golf course.
During her first round, Thompson hit a sloppy short game shot on the par-4 7th hole, leaving herself 13 feet for par. She went on to three-putt from there for double bogey. After she bogeyed the subsequent hole, I thought the wheels were about to come off. They didn’t. She finished solidly on Thursday and then fired a 69 on Friday, effectively matching the scoring average for the day (68.8). Lexi gained strokes off the tee in her second round and gained strokes with her approach play in the first round. Her ball striking was impressive by any standard.
My takeaway from Lexi Thompson’s first two days is that she performed ridiculously well in a setting we can contextualize. The Shriners Children’s Open is a weaker-than-average field on the strongest golf tour in the world. That is an elite standard of golf competition. For as much as people like to discuss the razor-thin margins between worldwide golf tours, the margins are not as thin as they are often described. A middle of the road PGA Tour player would dominate on any other tour in the golf ecosystem. Lexi proved that even without firing on all cylinders, she can compete with the best group of golfers in the world.
Thompson’s performance is a wonderful testament to the state of women’s professional golf. She did not dominate on the LPGA Tour in 2023. In fact, she struggled! Nonetheless, she captured the attention of many golf fans and PGA Tour players this weekend, many of whom had to scroll up on the Shriners leaderboard to get from their name to Thompson’s.
This piece originally appeared in The Fried Egg newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.