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Lexi (69) steps back from social media and into contention

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DALY CITY, Calif. – Lexi Thompson made news before striking a shot this week at the Mediheal Championship.

She created a buzz announcing she was taking a step back from social media, handing over duties to her management team, in part to spare herself exposure to the trolls who live to antagonize with “harsh, hurtful” commentary.

She created a buzz again early on Saturday, this time on the course, with spectators watching her name shoot up the leaderboard.

She acknowledged that being off social media might be helping her this week.

“I think so,” Thompson said. “It makes me focus on my game a lot more.

“This week, I’ve hardly checked my phone, just to text my mom, or take a picture of my dog. I think it’s good for me, just to focus on my game.”

With Lake Merced Golf Club once again a brutish test, Thompson’s 3-under 69 amounted to a moving-day charge. She got herself in contention to try to make a run at her 11th LPGA title, her first this season. She vaulted from a tie for 21st to a tie for fourth, but thanks to Sei Young Kim’s brilliant back nine, Thompson finds herself six shots back.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship

At Lake Merced, however, six shots isn’t as daunting.

How tough is it playing?

So Yeon Ryu began the day with a one-shot lead and shot 79.

Inbee Park was tied for fourth at day’s start and shot 80.

Thompson was one of just four players to post rounds in the 60s. Only Minjee Lee (67) and Kim (68) posted a lower score.

“Overall, this golf course is very challenging,” Thompson said. “They’re tucking some of these pins, putting them on three degrees of slope. It’s hard, and once it starts blowing, it’s hard to actually get close to these hole locations.”

Thompson got off to a sluggish start this year, with a T-10 at the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions her only top 25 finish in her first four starts. She rounded into form in the year’s first major championship, finishing third at the ANA Inspiration, but then she missed her first cut this year at last week’s Hugel-Air Premia LA Open last week.

On a demanding course, in cold and windy conditions, Lake Merced is presenting a major-like test.

“It definitely requires a lot of patience, because there will be holes where you just have to take a bogey and just move on to the next one,” she said. “If you hit a squirrely drive, you just have to pitch out. You're going to make bogeys out there. At the same time, there are birdie opportunities. If they get nicer, with some of the pins, you can make some birdies. But, like I said, it's a challenging golf course, you just have to take the hard holes and just run with pars.”