Lexi Thompson followed one of her most forgettable nines with one of her greatest. Ever.
Thompson faced Europe’s Anna Nordqvist in the first of 12 Solheim Cup singles matches on Sunday in Des Moines, but it didn’t start well for the 22-year-old American. She slumped on the front nine, caught fire on the back and was eventually able to secure a half point for the U.S. Sunday.
“That had to be the weirdest round of golf I ever played,” said Thompson on the Golf Channel after her round. She finished two over on the front nine and seven under on the back. “The front nine I don’t think I was awake, and the back nine I just played lights out.”
Hoping to give the Americans a boost to begin the day — they led 10.5 to 5.5 after Saturday — Thompson stumbled out of the gates. She missed a near-gimme birdie putt on the opener and ended up losing the first four holes to be put in a giant hole.
Her coaches met Thompson on tee boxes and fairways, hoping a pep talk would lift her spirits (and play), but she still wasn’t able to make it click. Thompson was still down four to Nordqvist when she made the turn.
But that’s when everything changed.
Thompson, on the 10th, began her epic stretch that will be remembered as one of the best spurts in Solheim Cup history.
She birdied the 10th and then holed out from 112 yards for eagle on the 11th (that after Nordqvist stuck her shot close, almost assuring an easy birdie).
They both parred the 12th before Thompson birdied the 13th to cut the deficit to one. After they halved with birdies on 14, Thompson made her second eagle in a five-hole stretch when she drained a long putt on the par-5 15th to move the match to all square.
“Her making the shot for eagle on 11 was very impressive,” Nordqvist said. “I hit a great shot in there, and her making the putt on 15, I didn’t quite expect that. The way she turned it around after a rocky start was very impressive.”
And Thompson still wasn’t done. Her birdie on the par-4 16th gave her a 1 up lead and capped a stretch in which she was eight under through seven holes. Both players bogeyed the 17, and Nordqvist won the 18th with a birdie to halve the match.
“To me, that was like six points,” said U.S. captain Juli Inkster. “It was probably fittingly they both got half a point—they both played amazing. Lexi stared off slow, but it just shows the heart of her and determination. You think maybe she’s out of it and then the switch goes off. That’s a big half point for the U.S. team.”
The U.S led 11 to 6 after the Thompson-Nordqvist match, and that lead jumped to 13 to 6 after Cristie Kerr (2 and 1) and Paula Creamer (1 up) won. Angel Yin’s half point and Lizette Salas’s 1-up win secured the U.S. victory for the second straight year.