Double doubles put Thompson five shots back
Lexi Thompson had the ideal start to her weekend in the final pairing of the U.S. Women's Open Championship.
Though three shots down to playing partner Michelle Wie, Thompson was on target early and often at Pinehurst No. 2's tough pin placements and capitalized with birdies on No. 3 and No. 5 closing within a shot of Wie.
After reaching the fifth green in two and tapping in for a four, Thompson made two more pars and was still in superb shape when it fell apart for two holes - and that's enough to make a major difference in a U.S. Open and on and around fast, hot Donald Ross greens.
After no double bogeys for 43 holes, Thompson suffered back-to-back doubles on eight and nine. Added with Wie making birdie on nine and 10, and Thompson's one-stroke deficit became seven in three holes of play.
"I started off well and I made a bad mess on No. 8. And I actually hit a perfect shot on nine, it just went about three or four yards too far," Thompson said.
With a pin placed deep on the No. 9 green, and near a serious false back, Thompson's iron hit near the stick but didn't hold, slowly trickling away off the green, through tightly-mown grass bunkering and near television towers behind the green.
Rules officials allowed Thompson a free drop. While gaining a few yards toward the green, Thompson's drop came to rest in a divot. Her long putt took two big hops and didn't make it to the green leading to her five there.
Thompson made four bogeys on the back nine before getting one shot back with a birdie on 18.
"Any time you see a putt go in on 18 and hear the fans cheer that loud for you, you definitely, it definitely gives you a lot more confidence going into (Sunday)," Thompson said.
With the birdie finish, she's five shots behind Wie and Amy Yang and one back of a foursome at 2-over.
Thompson, 19 but already an eight-year U.S. Women's Open veteran, won her first major tournament - the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April becoming women's golf's second-youngest major champ. With all the Open rounds under her belt already, and having been a pro since age 15, on one hand, Thompson has the experience and recently, winning experience, to draw on. Yet, she's still a teenager.
"Anything can happen on the final day of a U.S. Women's Open. So I think I still do have a chance," she said. "I'm just going to go out there with a positive attitude (Sunday" and take one shot at a time and pretty much just visualize good shots out there and commit to them."