South Florida ought to be proud this summer.
That part of the country’s doing something remarkably right in a time when the United States has been hammered for showing so poorly in women’s golf. The region's playing a big part in an American resurgence.
Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton, Fla., shot a 5-under-par 67 Saturday to bolt back atop the leaderboard at the Evian Masters in her bid to win her third LPGA title. Alexis Thompson of Coral Springs, Fla., is tied for fourth just three shots back.
Three weeks ago, Miami’s Cristie Kerr became the first American to gain the No. 1 ranking in women’s golf. This was after she won the LPGA Championship by a record 12 shots.
As they say, there must be something in the water supply down there.
Pressel, 22, and Thompson, 15, grew up 18 miles apart in South Florida, Pressel playing at St. Andrews Country Club in Boca Raton and Thompson at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, Fla. Kerr, 32, grew up playing at Kendale Lakes, 40 miles south of Pressel and Thompson.
When she was 13, it seems so long ago now, Pressel played in the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles after becoming the youngest player ever to qualify. At 12, Thompson broke Pressel’s record, qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open in its return to Pine Needles. Like Pressel and Thompson, Kerr was the No. 1 amateur in the nation before turning pro.
I remember back when Alexis teed it up in her first U.S. Women’s Open qualifier. She was just 10. Herb Krickstein, Morgan’s grandfather, demonstrated once more his eye for talent. Way back then, he told me: 'If anyone is going to break Morgan’s [U.S. Women's Open] record, it’s Lexi.”
If they’re on the same career trajectories, watch out for Thompson at the Kraft Nabisco. Pressel became the youngest winner of a major claiming that title when she was 18. Thompson shared low amateur honors there two seasons ago.
A look at today’s leaderboard is promising for another American celebration.
Brittany Lincicome blistered Evian Masters Golf Club with a 65 on Saturday, equaling her lowest round as an LPGA pro. She's heating up, having tied for second at the Bell Micro two months ago.
That’s three Americans among the top five on the Evian Masters leaderboard heading into Sunday. After going a year with just one victory, an American triumph on Sunday would mark the fourth U.S. triumph in the last six LPGA events.