Lexi Thompson is looking to make the most of what feels like the pole position at the inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship.
And Lydia Ko is drafting nicely.
The LPGA’s first event at the Brickyard Crossings Golf Course, with the final four holes inside the 2.5 mile oval track that is home to the Indianapolis 500, was played on what racing fans would call a “fast track,” with Thompson leading the first round’s low scoring.
Thompson opened with a 9-under-par 63 Thursday, good for a one-shot lead on Kris Tamulis and Sandra Gal.
Ko is just two shots back as she seeks to shake a summer swoon and win for the first time in more than a year.
“It’s nice to get off to a really solid start,” Ko said. “I’ve been struggling the last few months, so it’s nice to be able to put myself in a different rhythm.”
Moriya Jutanugarn is also just two shots back.
Stacy Lewis, coming off an inspired victory at the Cambia Portland Classic, where she donated the entire first-place check ($195,000) to the relief effort helping her Houston hometown recover from Hurricane Harvey, was off to another fine start until making triple bogey at the 16th, one of those four holes inside the oval. She opened with a 72.
Those four holes have captured the players’ attention.
“It’s cool, it’s funky,” Gal said. “I really do like the course. It has really good challenges off the tee and the greens, and it’s cool being inside the track. It’s just so big. It’s unbelievable to be in there.”
The event was originally scheduled as a 72-hole tournament, but the LPGA announced earlier this year that it would be trimmed to 54 holes, with a Saturday finish that would give players more time to travel to the year’s final major, next week’s Evian Championship. The change helped bolster the field’s strength.
Thompson’s 63 equaled her best score in the opening round of an LPGA event.
“It was just, overall, a very solid round,” Thompson said.
Thompson, No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, appeared to still be riding some Solheim Cup momentum. The last time golf fans saw her, she was mounting a memorable comeback against Europe’s Anna Nordqvist in Sunday singles. After losing the first four holes, Thompson ended up halving the match.
The rally left an imprint on Thompson.
“That round definitely gave me the confidence that I can make those birdies if I just let it go and fire at pins and just commit to my shots and don’t doubt,” Thompson said. “That’s how golf is. It’s a lot about confidence and just committing to yourself and believing in yourself, something I’m learning along the way.”
Thompson made 11 birdies against two bogeys. She is seeking her eighth LPGA title, her second this season. She won the Kingsmill Championship in May.
Ko opened with a round of seven birdies and no bogeys. It’s been an off year for the 14-time LPGA winner and former Rolex world No. 1. She is coming off missed cuts in two of her last three starts.
“It was a fun day,” Ko said. “Made a really good putt on the last to make an up and down for that 7 under. So, hopefully, I’ll take this momentum into tomorrow.”
Ko was solid, hitting 12 of 14 fairways and 16 greens in regulation while taking 28 putts.
“Consistency is something that I was kind of lacking the past few months, so I’ve been working hard on that,” Ko said. “It kind of showed today. So, I’m hopeful that will carry on. Fingers crossed.”