Lexi Thompson’s Statement at Shootout

Lexi Thompson Collaborates with Bryson de Chambeau to Create Some Golf Fireworks

Does everyone remember when Michelle Wie got thrown into a men’s tournament all those years ago, when she was still no more than a teen? What an awful thing that was, to put her up to that for the bucks and the ratings. Then, when it didn’t work out on that particular week, a bunch of spectators said “See? Men can play golf. Women can’t play golf.” At the time, Wie was very young, and under an enormous amount of pressure from an industry expecting the second coming of Mickey Wright – not fair at all. She also played under the shadow of Annika Sorenstam, the best of her day, who had already done the men’s tournament thing. Well, some of that stereotyping is gone from the woman versus man stunt, but we settled something this week at the Franklin Templeton Shootout. We learned that men and women both play golf, courtesy of one Lexi Thompson.

thompsonLexi Thompson is still young, but she’s not a nervous teen. She found herself in friendly company, with no PGA stars hounding her about replacing someone else, at least not to my knowledge, or looking down at her with scorn – none of that. In fact, she was paired with Bryson deChambeau, her fellow Cobra-sponsored colleague. Remember Bryson, the guy who recut all the shafts to the same length, and is famous for what some are calling a “side-saddle” style of putting? He’s also a fairly cool guy, and the two Cobra stars had a lot of fun in their “play the best shot” collaboration.  Too bad, they didn’t win the tournament, but both made a very respectable showing in the 12-team event that Greg Norman established for fighting childhood canceer.

The Franklin Templeton Shootout has been around quite a while now, so long that Norman himself has competed in it 24 times. Fittingly, it was played on the Tiburon course that we hear about a lot when majors get played during the PGA and LPGA year. In terms of golf, the most important point is that Lexi Thompson required no “carrying” whatsoever in her Franklin Templeton appearance. That was dramatically demonstrated on the par 5 17th, as she put a 200 yard 5-iron 6 feet from the cup. The two rival men both hit 9-irons, and neither could come nearly as close. Lexi is infamous as a deadly iron player, and if you’ve ever watched her prepare at the range, you need a set of headphones to shut out her brain sizzle. She is, in my experience, the loudest concentrater in the business. At any rate, Bryson obviously enjoyed the shot, and didn’t even try to beat it. It set up an eagle for the team.

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I feel as though some real progress has been made. We had an event with representatives of the PGA and LPGA, and it didn’t mean anything outside of what it should have. It was fun to merge the tours with at least one couple, for at least one week, and I can only hope there will be more of it. Even if it’s still for the bucks and ratings, now it has more friendly vibes than it did when we threw Michelle in with the press barracudas. Lexi was a player set free from stupid stuff. She just played fine golf, made a statement or two with her presence, and put a popular face on an event that supports a terrific cause. The only thing that still bothers me about this sort of thing is that 200 yard 5-iron. I do a victory dance if I hit mine 170, and even a little bit straight. A lot of years go by between putting it six feet from the cup as well. Hats off to Norman for what he has created, and a double nod for inviting Lexi – great choice.
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