PRATTVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Ninth-grader Alexis Thompson is trying to avoid getting too far ahead of herself in the Navistar LPGA Classic.
“I’m an amateur, and I’m just going to look at it and just be like, ‘Whatever,”’ said Thompson, tied for the second-round lead. “Because I just try to come into these and just play well. It’s just good competition for me. Best in the world.”
Attempting to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history, the 14-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., shot a 3-under 69 on Friday for a share of the lead with top-ranked Lorena Ochoa and three others.
“I mean, I can say I’m really mature for 14,” said Thompson, the sister of PGA Tour player Nicholas Thompson. “I would definitely say that. But, I mean, I don’t know. I just play golf every day. I mean, I’m young. That’s the only difference. I don’t know, I’m pretty good for a young player. … I’m 14 and I just love to play golf.”
Marlene Hagge won the 1952 Sarasota Open 14 days after her 18th birthday and took the Bakersfield Open two months later, but both were 18-hole events. Paula Creamer won the 2005 Sybase Classic at 18 years, 9 months to become the youngest winner of a full tournament.
Thompson won the 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior and tied for 34th in July in the U.S. Women’s Open. She shot a 65 on Thursday.
“I was a little nervous in the beginning,” Thompson said. “I don’t know why, but I was just playing it as a normal tournament. I mean, maybe just because I was at the top. I don’t know. But I’m just going to go out there on the weekend and just be relaxed and just play my game.”
Ochoa (68), Laura Davies (65), Yani Tseng (63) and Giulia Sergas (65) matched Thompson at 10-under 134 on The Senator course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Capitol Hill complex.
“It’s lovely to see a young girl like that playing so well,” said Davies, a 20-time LPGA Tour winner. “It’s good for all of us if she keeps that up.”
Ochoa, the defending champion who finished second last week behind Sophie Gustafson, is winless in 11 starts since the Corona Championship in April. She has two victories in 17 events this season after winning 21 times in the previous three years.
“I’m really happy with my round today,” Ochoa said. “It was a little bit of roller coaster. You know, few birdies and also a few bogeys. But I think what’s important at the end of the day is I’m in a good position for the weekend. I’m excited to be up there. … I’m going be ready to play good on the weekend.”
Tseng matched the tournament record with her 63. She birdied her final three holes and six of her final eight.
“I really didn’t think of the record,” Tseng said. “I just play one shot at a time. … I just played really good today and made a lot of putts.”
Gustafson was 9 under after a 65, and Michelle Wie (70) and first-round leader Janice Moodie (72) topped a group at 8 under.
“I hit solid shots out there, but I just didn’t get them as close to the holes as I wanted them to,” Wie said. “I left a lot of putts out. I felt like I should have made a lot more putts today. But, you know, putting in the afternoon is always more difficult than putting in the mornings because you have a lot more bumps in the way and stuff.
“But, you know, I’m pretty happy with the way I played. But like I said, there’s a lot more work to be done in the next couple days.”
Thompson bogeyed the 369-yard fourth hole, hitting a lob wedge from 36 yards to 15 feet and two-putting, but rebounded with a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 fifth.
“That fourth hole, that was a pretty stupid mistake,” Thompson said. “But I bounced back and I made birdie next hole. So that was good. That definitely turned it around.”
She also birdied the par-5 eighth – two-putting after hitting a hybrid from 202 yards to 8 feet – and added birdies on the par-4 ninth and par-5 17th.
“I just want to shoot under par the next two days,” Thompson said. “Maybe in the 60s would be nice, both days. I think I would be up there.”