Shocking Lexi Thompson shank at Solheim Cup comes at critical moment
Despite enduring a somewhat lengthy slump, missing eight cuts in 11 starts this year, Thompson, currently ranked 26th in the world, made the team as an automatic qualifier. Last month, U.S. captain Stacy Lewis was tentatively confident in Thompson’s ability to perform.
“There’s definitely some concerns about her game, 100 percent,” Lewis said on a conference call with reporters after her team had been finalized. “Talking to her, though, she’s been handling all this remarkably well. I’ve said it before, but you see her off the golf course, and you would never know she’s struggling like she is right now.”
Lewis liked what she saw from Thompson once the team got onsite at Finca Cortesin, too, surprising many observers by putting Thompson out in the opening foursomes match alongside Meghan Khang. And Thompson delivered. The duo never trailed, winning their match against Linn Grant and Maja Stark 2 and 1, as the U.S. team swept the Europeans on Friday morning 4-0.
Given her morning performance, it was less surprising to see Thompson out again in afternoon four-ball, this time alongside World No. 2 Lilia Vu. The two played a tight match against Europeans Leona Maguire and Georgia Hall, battling a 1-down deficit until Thompson birdied the par-3 14th to tie the match. The Europeans took control again, going 1-up with birdie on 15, then Vu birdied 17 to tie the match again with one hole remaining.
On the par-5 finisher, Vu got on the green in regulation but left herself a lengthy birdie putt while Lexi found a sidehill lie in the greenside rough, lying two. When Maguire holed out a chip for birdie, the Americans needed an up-and-down from Thompson or a hole-out from Vu to tie the match.
But then — disaster. Thompson’s chip squirted hard right and rolled all the way down into the collection area off the green, a shocking shank at the most inopportune time.
In a press conference after the match, Thompson was asked about the shot.
“I don’t need to comment on that,” she said.
To which the inquiring reporter replied, “Excuse me?”
“I don’t need to comment on the chip,” Thompson continued. “It was a bad lie, and I didn’t hit a good chip, but it was pretty much impossible, so…”
A few moments later, Lewis added, “That’s a terrible question.”
Thompson’s struggles under pressure over the course of her career have been well-documented, but after the shaky chip at 18, she bounced back admirably, addressing her fourth shot from the collection area and executing a brilliant recovery to tap-in range. But par wasn’t what she and Vu needed, and when Vu missed her birdie putt, the Europeans claimed the match point, 1 up.
The loss was part of a big European comeback in the afternoon, as they won 3 of 4 available points. The score now stands at 5-3 with the Americans leading and two days of play remaining.
You can watch Saturday’s Day 2 action beginning at 2 a.m. on Golf Channel and Peacock.