In the weeks leading up to the 2023 Solheim Cup, longtime Team USA mainstay Lexi Thompson was in questionable form.
Although Thompson, currently ranked 26th in the world, missed eight cuts in 11 starts this year, he made the team as an automatic qualifier despite a somewhat lengthy lull. Last month, U.S. captain Stacy Lewis was cautiously confident in Thompson’s performance.
“There are definitely some concerns about their play, 100 percent,” Lewis said in a conference call with reporters after her team was finalized. “When I spoke to her, she handled everything surprisingly well. I’ve said it before, but if you saw her off the golf course you would never know she was struggling like she is now.”
Lewis also liked what she saw from Thompson when the team was on site at Finca Cortesin. She surprised many observers by eliminating Thompson in the first four-way match alongside Meghan Khang. And Thompson delivered. The duo never trailed, winning their match against Linn Grant and Maja Stark 2-1 as the US team defeated the Europeans 4-0 on Friday morning.
Given her morning performance, it was less surprising that Thompson again missed out on the afternoon four-ball, this time alongside world No. 2 Lilia Vu. The two played a close game against Europeans Leona Maguire and Georgia Hall, battling from a 1-down deficit until Thompson birdied the par-3 14th. The Europeans took control again and took the lead with a birdie on 15, then Vu birdied 17 to tie the game again with one hole to go.
On the par-5 finisher, Vu got on the green in regulation but missed a long birdie putt while Lexi found a sidehill lie in the green’s rough for two. When Maguire holed a chip for birdie, the Americans needed an up-and-down from Thompson or a hole-out from Vu to decide the game.
But then – catastrophe. Thompson’s chip shot hard to the right and rolled off the green and into the rally area, a shocking shot at the worst possible time.
In a postgame press conference, Thompson was asked about the shot.
“I don’t have to comment on that,” she said.
To which the questioning reporter replied: “Excuse me?”
“I don’t have to comment on the chip,” Thompson continued. “It was a bad lie and I didn’t hit a good chip, but it was next to impossible, so…”
A few moments later she added: “That’s a terrible question.”
Thompson’s struggles under pressure throughout her career have been well documented, but after the shaky chip at 18, she recovered admirably, blocking her fourth shot from the rallying area and making a brilliant recovery to range. But par wasn’t what she and Vu needed, and when Vu missed her birdie putt, the Europeans secured match point by 1.
The defeat was part of a major European comeback in the afternoon as they won three points out of four available. The score is now 5-3, the Americans are leading and there are still two days of play remaining.
You can catch the action from Day 2 starting at 2 a.m. Saturday on Golf Channel and Peacock.
https://golf.com/news/shocking-lexi-thompson-shank-leads-loss-match/ Lexi Thompson’s shocking demise at the Solheim Cup comes at a critical moment