GALLOWAY, N.J.—Lexi Thompson always draws a crowd as her fans jockey for position on every hole just to get a glimpse of the 11-time LPGA Tour winner. When Thompson is the first player in her group to putt out, fans quickly start scurrying to the next tee, a quick walk with the tees and greens laid out in close proximity at Seaview.
The fans follow Thompson everywhere she goes, but she has a soft spot for the New Jersey fans. She made her pro debut at this golf course in 2012 and won the event two years ago.
Playing without fans last year was tough on Thompson, but she said she appreciates them and the role they play in her game now.
“I'm so happy that people are allowed to come out to see us this week,” Thompson said. We get some really good crowds out here, so hopefully we get a bunch of people out here supporting us.”
Thompson certainly had plenty of support Friday, even if her play was slightly overshadowed as Matilda Castren shot 66 in Thompson’s group. She finished her opening round at 2-under and is currently four shots behind leader So Yeon Ryu.
Her most vocal fans waited in the grandstand behind the 17th green, five men stood up in the front row of the hospitality area wearing shirts that spelled out “Lexi!”. Thompson came to the 17th following three back nine birdies that brought her back from her 1-over opening nine. She made another birdie on the 18th and sent her fans home happy.
Thompson was grateful for her fans following the round, she signed every autograph and took pictures with every fan who asked.
“I love playing in front of people. I think the fans make the game. Hearing the chants and hearing people rooting you on gets you fired up,” Thompson said. “I can speak for myself it gives me a purpose to go out there and play well. I just love seeing the kids out there, the smiles on their faces, and signing all autographs, good or bad day.”
Thompson has had plenty of success on the LPGA Tour, but she has recently been thinking about playing in a PGA Tour event. Thompson’s brothers Michael and Nick each play on Tour, and she’s used to always competing with them.
“It's definitely been on my mind. I think it would be a great opportunity. Of course I would have to think about what golf course I could manage. But growing up with two older brothers, playing against the guys, it's kind of natural for me,” Thompson said.
Should she enter a PGA Tour event, she would become the seventh woman to play on Tour and the first since Brittany Lincicome at the 2018 Barbasol Championship. No females have made a cut on the PGA Tour, with Michelle Wie coming the closest after shooting rounds of 72 and 68 at the 2004 Sony Open in Hawaii.