PINEHURST, N.C. – Here we go again.
Lexi Thompson followed a familiar formula Friday at the U.S. Women’s Open, getting into contention with the same bomb-and-gouge game that helped her win the Kraft Nabisco Championship, the year’s first major.
Thompson shot a 2-under-par 68 at Pinehurst No. 2, moving into second place, three shots behind Michelle Wie (68), who leads at 4-under overall.
Thompson, 19, defeated Wie, 24, in a head-to-head final-round duel winning Kraft in April.
Hall of Famer Karrie Webb (73), who sits seven shots back, watched Thompson hit driver all over Pinehurst No. 2 the last two days. When Thompson missed fairways, she muscled her way out of the sandy waste areas and native grasses with remarkable effectiveness.
“This is the second major of the year where it doesn't really matter if you hit the fairway, if you're Lexi Thompson,” Webb said. “Kraft, we didn't have any rough, and so Lexi could hit driver all day, and if she hit it in the rough, she could still get it on the green. And for two days here, I've seen that, too. I don't need to hit it in that junk, because I'm not strong enough. I don't get the velocity on the ball to get it up in the air to really control it. But Lexi's played some unbelievably good shots out of that stuff. So it's really not a penalty for her.”
The fairways at Pinehurst No. 2 are unusually wide for a U.S. Women’s Open. Thompson has hit 20 of 28 fairways over two days, good for a tie for 84th in driving accuracy, and yet she’s posted the second-best overall score this week.
“My driver wasn't as straight as it was the first day,” Thompson said. “But I think that strength definitely helps. You can get pretty lucky in the sandy stuff. You can get to where it's not up against a clump of grass, but you never know.”