Lexi Thompson in full flight today – photo USGA Darren Carroll

Two weeks ago, America’s favourite golfing son, Phil Mickelson, won the PGA Championship and rewarded his many golfing fans in doing so.

Tomorrow America’s favourite golfing daughter, Lexi Thompson, gets her chance to emulate Mickelson’s deeds and convert the one shot 54 hole lead over Yuka Saso she has established at the US Women’s Open into a memorable victory.

There are many parallels between Mickelson and Thompson, more especially their exciting play and their capacity to engage with the many golfing fans they have. Today Thompson was even signing autographs during her round which would not have gone unnoticed by the golfing public.

Thompson’s bogey free third round of 66 is the best of the week thus far and allowed her to move ahead of the third-round leader, Yuka Saso, who bogeyed her final hole to provide Thompson clean air atop the leaderboard.

Still only 26 years of age, Thompson is playing her 15th US Women’s Open with a best of runner-up in 2019. She has, though, won a major previously when winning the 2014 ANA Inspiration and suffered a huge setback when penalised four shots during the 2017 ANA before finishing runner-up.

“It’s amazing. It’s just an honor to be out here,” said Thompson when asked to describe her day.

“I’ve heard nothing but great things about it and how challenging it is, so I was really looking forward to just coming into the week and seeing what all the hype was about.

“It’s just an amazing layout, atmosphere, everything. It’s definitely challenging. You have to keep it in those fairways. The rough is up very thick. But it’s a challenging golf course, and that’s how all majors should be.

“I’ve just been working extremely hard on every aspect of my game. I’ve worked with Martin Hall quite a bit in the last few weeks. Got to see him a few times.

“But my last week at home I was nonstop practicing working on my game knowing that this is the first event out of about six in a row for me. A big stretch for me, and this one being the first one. I’ve been just working extremely hard, but that’s what it takes to be up top, so I just have to keep on improving.”

Thompson is clearly carrying a much better approach to her game on the golf course and she described just how that had come about.

“It takes a lot because I’ve always been one to be very hard on myself. That’s how I grew up. That’s how I always wanted to be better, and I never accepted mediocre. I think to be the best you don’t want to accept mediocre, so you always have to strive to do better and keep on improving.

“I don’t know, it just came to me. I wasn’t improving with my mindset on the golf course so I knew I had to change, and this week I’ve just had a lot of fun. I’ve made bogeys and I just let it go because it’s going to happen, and just trying to have fun with my caddie out there. It was his birthday today, so I didn’t yell at him.”

Saso bogeyed her final hole but she had again impressed with a round of 71 and might still be the toughest for Thompson to beat tomorrow.

Saso recorded four birdies and four bogeys and is just one behind Thompson but three ahead of the third placed Megha Ganne and Jeongeun Lee 6.

“I think I started good,” said the 19 year old Japanese based Filipino. “I started with a birdie followed with a bogey. But I think I holed some good putts, just a little disappointing that I misread two putts, but I think it’s a great day.”

Saso has only been a professional for just over 18 months but she has been very successful in Japan and has played in LPGA events on occasions.

“I think I’ve learned so much last year and this year. I played in so many good tournaments and I’ve been having a great chance playing with the great players, seeing them play, being so patient, trusting on what they do, I think I’ve learned from that, so I think I’m just going to stay patient and trust the process.”

Seven players are under par and all have a genuine chance of taking the title but some will have to play very well and rely on Thompson or Saso faltering.

Lydia Ko heads the three Australasians to make the cut but for all three today’s third round was a disappointing day.

Ko was round in 76 to be at 9 over and tied for 49th, Minjee Lee a 77 to be at 10 over and Hannah Hgree a 78 to be at 13 over. recorded rounds of 76.


Lydia Ko – leads the Australasians through 54 holes – photo USGA