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Defending champ Thompson opens with 72 at ANA

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Lexi Thompson enjoyed seeing her champion’s plaque on the Walk of Fame aside Poppie’s Pond in practice rounds at the ANA Inspiration.

She relished being introduced on the first tee as the defending champion.

And with an opening round of even-par 72, she also had to like her first-round position. She opened one shot better than she did when she won last year. It was a solid start given that Thompson played the first nine in blustery winds the afternoon wave didn’t have to deal with.

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“I think winning last year gave me more confidence going into this week,” she said.

Thompson was in the spotlight as defending champion, but she played the first round in the shadow of playing partner Lydia Ko, the Rolex Women’s World No. 1, who stole first-round headlines posting a 71. Ko’s score was her 29th consecutive round under par in an LPGA event, equaling the LPGA mark set by Annika Sorenstam in 2004.

“Playing with Lydia keeps me loose,” Thompson said. “We had a few good laughs on the first tee.”