Lexi Thompson fired off a bogey-free 64 on Thursday at The ANNIKA Driven by Gainbridge at Pelican in Bellair, Fla.
She sits two shots behind first-round leader Brooke Henderson, who shot an 8-under 62.
Thompson looked comfortable out on the course. Afterward, she reflected on how her performance at the Solheim Cup and the Shriners Children’s Open, two recent events, gave her even more self-confidence.
“Both did extreme amounts for my confidence, just being able to play aggressive golf,” Thompson said after her round. “Solheim Cup is just so much pressure being able to play for your country, and being able to pull off shots under that kind of pressure, that means a lot and does a lot for your confidence when do you so.”
At the Shriners Children’s Open, a PGA Tour tournament, she narrowly missed the cut at TPC Summerlin. finishing ahead of a couple dozen men. Her presence didn’t go unnoticed as television viewership increased drastically, and the fans loved seeing her drop birdie putts and out-drive some of the men.
“To go to Shriners and just be able to rip driver everywhere and hit it as long as I can and just take advantage of that, really just see how my ball striking was and put it to the test. I enjoyed every bit of it, especially being with the kids,” Thompson said. “It did more for me mentally, I think, than anything.”
She started her round Thursday by making four birdies in the first five holes. Thompson added another one at the par-3 12th with her final birdie at the par-5 14th.
The 11-time LPGA winner has recorded two top-10s on the tour since the Solheim Cup. She finished solo 5th at The Ascent in early October and tied for 8th at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Before those finishes, Thompson missed six cuts in a row. She was not playing well at all. So, her comments about gaining confidence from those events certainly ring true.
Will that confidence she gained help snap her winless streak this week at one of her favorite events?
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.