Sweet 15: Thompson charges into Open contention
OAKMONT, Pa.--The big news Saturday wasn't that the third round of the Women's U.S. Open didn't finish. After Friday's torrential downpour, that was never going to happen anyway.
What did happen Saturday afternoon was a charge by an electrifying player. Fifteen-year-old Alexis Thompson, who turned pro a few weeks ago, put on a stellar display of power and patience and finished her round just before dark, a terrific 1-under-par 70 that will leave her in contention for Sunday's final round no matter where and when the leaders finish.
Thompson had bookend bogeys on the first and 18th holes but a birdie-birdie spurt at 16 and 17 helped her claw back to 4-over par for the tournament. Paula Creamer had the lead at 1-under par through 13 holes when play was suspended. Wendy Ward was at 2 over with one to play and Suzann Pettersen was at 3 over. Then Thompson was tied with Amy Yang and Brittany Lang, who are both still on the course.
If you think this 15-year-old phenom is a fluke, think again. She's actually quite experienced. Her most amazing statistic, besides her athletic 5-foot 10-inch size, is that this is already her fourth U.S. Open appearance.
Check out her power. The eighth hole is a 230-yard par 3. She ripped a 4-iron to 6 feet and made birdie on the hole. At 17, the uphill par 4, the tees were moved way up and was playing 228 yards to the pin. She hit her hybrid club near the green, pitched to 10 feet and made that one for birdie a few minutes after draining a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th.
"I played really consistent," said Thompson, who is from Coral Springs, Fla., and had her parents rooting her on in the gallery. "I just tried to hit fairways and greens and two-putt. Pars are good."
Thompson was able to laugh about her opening tee shot. She used a 3-wood and, because she was a little nervous, chunked it badly. "It probably went about 160 yards," she said with a smile. "I don't know what it is about that opening hole."
Can a 15-year-old win the U.S. Open? Thompson said she isn't thinking about that. "I'm just trying to play the course," she said "I'm just happy to be here."
One thing is certain: She's going to make the final round at Oakmont worth watching.(Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)