Lexi Thompson draws young crowd, wants to inspire youth to play golf


Lexi Thompson walks along the course during the first round of the Meijer LPGA Classic at Blythefield Country Club in Belmont on June 17, 2021. (Andrew McDonald/WOOD TV8)

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — If you attended the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give on Thursday, it wasn’t hard to find the group people were there to watch.

Brooke Henderson, who was the defending 2019 champion for the second time, Nelly Korda and then there was Lexi Thompson, one of the top ranked players in the world. 

With that group was a bunch of younger kids, mostly girls, that were following Thompson throughout the entire 18 holes in the first round.

While Thompson ended at -4 and is tied for 18th going into the second round, respectively, that group of young children was cheering regardless of where her shot ended up.

They were cheering because they look up to her.

And that’s why afterward when Thompson was talking to the media about her round, they patiently waited to get an autograph.

“It means the world to me,” Thompson said. “Seeing the little girls with smiles on their faces. They don’t care what I shoot, they just cheer me on. And this is what we want to do by growing the game and getting boys or girls involved in the game at a younger age. It’s an amazing sport that you learn so much about yourself with, so I want them to have some fun with it.”

While Thompson appreciates all her fans of all ages, playing at Blythefield Country Club has always been one she looks forward to. 

On Thursday, she believed the course played fair throughout the entire day, even though the top scores all came from morning groups.

Lauren Stephenson, Leona Maguire, Charley Hull and Nasa Hataoka all finished the first round -7 to lead the standings.

When Thompson starts the second round trailing by three strokes, she will be one of the morning tee times on Friday. Regardless of what time she tees off at, however, she believes the course plays well.

“The wind picked up and the greens got a little firmer as the day moved along. Maybe the greens were a little softer in the morning,” Thompson said. “Overall, the course played great in the morning and afternoon.

“I’m excited to play (Friday) morning, I’m a morning person anyway.”

There have been quite a few changes made to the course since the last time Thompson competed in this event, noticeably with bunker placements. This has allowed more of the field to be in play.

For players that can hit the ball with great distance, like Thompson, this should be a positive. This caused her to think more strategic when drawing up a game plan.

“Off the tee, there is a lot more to think about with some of those bunkers out there,” Thompson said. “Especially when the fairways are playing more firm. The bunkers make you think twice about pulling out a driver. Regardless, we all love coming back to Michigan to play.”

For Thompson, the front nine was pretty bland for her standards, however, she didn’t bogey any holes. Outside of a birdie on hole 3, Thompson entered the back nine down one. 

On the back, her game started to pick up. With birdies on holes 10, 14 and 15, Thompson found herself at -4 to end the day with no bogeys, which is always a plus.

“There was a couple shots I left in the rough that I wasn’t able to hit out of for birdies and this is a birdie course,” Thompson said. Overall though, it was a good and strong first day.”

No matter what she shoots, Thompson can count on having a solid following throughout the week. 

After this event was canceled a year ago due to COVID-19, hearing fans cheer after a good shot or putt goes down is a great feeling. 

“It’s amazing here, I love having fans back out here again,” Thompson said. “This event especially always has a good crowd and they give great support. I’m happy they took the limit off the fans and hopefully, we see more and more. That’s what we want to see.

“It makes golf worth playing.”

For Thompson’s young and older fans, she makes golf worth watching.

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