The previous, current and future of girls’s golf performed collectively. This is the way it went

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Lexi Thompson, Minjee Lee and Rose Zhang performed collectively at soggy Baltusrol on Friday.

Getty Photographs

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — When the two:01 p.m. threesome stepped on the tenth tee field on Friday, they commanded the most important gallery on the course. A gentle drizzle soaked Baltusrol for a lot of the morning throughout the second spherical of the KPMG Girls’s PGA Championship, however the gallery was undeterred. With a trio of superstars grouped collectively — Lexi Thompson, Minjee Lee and Rose Zhang — these followers have been getting their cash’s value, soggy socks and all.

Thompson, Lee and Zhang are usually not solely three of the most important names on this week’s discipline, they’re additionally emblematic of the passing of time: previous, current and future stars enjoying alongside each other.

Thompson represents one finish of the spectrum, a star together with her finest days (seemingly) behind her. Though she’s simply 28, her mileage contained in the ropes rivals nearly every other energetic participant’s. She turned professional in 2010 — at 14! — and has been within the highlight ever since. With 11 wins and a serious title, Thompson has put collectively a wonderful profession, however as one of many model names within the girls’s sport, there’s all the time been a craving for extra.

Golf could be a merciless sport, of which Thompson’s profession has been a gentle reminder. After profitable a serious at 19, she’s been caught in impartial making an attempt to do it once more. There have been shut calls — all ending in heartbreak — however that subsequent main title has by no means come. This season, a breakthrough doesn’t seem imminent. In 4 LPGA begins, Thompson has made only one reduce; her finest end: T31.

Spherical 2 on the Girls’s PGA was extra of the identical. Dropped golf equipment have been frequent; so too have been bewildered takes care of missed putts. Thompson rallied late within the day with a quartet of birdies to sneak contained in the reduce line, elevating her spirits significantly, however she nonetheless sits a distant eight photographs behind the leaders.

“It was a troublesome day and a half,” she mentioned. “Final week was powerful, too. I’ve been grinding. I’ve been working extraordinarily exhausting, and it’s been powerful. Simply making an attempt to get one thing that may click on with my swing.”

Lee, the reigning U.S. Girls’s Open champion, trudged by means of the rain alongside Thompson, however her play was extra polished. With six birdies and simply two bogeys, the two-time main winner posted 4 below, tying for the bottom spherical of the day. Whereas a lot of the sphere drifted backward in troublesome circumstances, Lee crept up the board.

“Clearly had a very nice day immediately,” she mentioned. “I’m hoping that the momentum carries on into the weekend.”


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Lee is only a 12 months youthful than Thompson, however her star energy has solely lately begun to materialize. She gained her first main simply two summers in the past, and added one other a 12 months in the past in North Carolina.

“Right this moment I had a very good again 9 and simply made two birdies and two bogeys on the entrance,” Lee mentioned. “Fairly stable day general.”

The No. 5-ranked participant on the earth, Lee is among the greatest names in girls’s golf. Buoyed by pinpoint precision together with her irons, she’s a risk to win each time she tees it up. When the putter cooperates, there are few gamers who can match her.

Rounding out the threesome was the 20-year-old Zhang, already dubbed the way forward for the sport. A month in the past, the brand new child on the block was nonetheless in faculty, battling it out at NCAAs for her second consecutive particular person title. Now, she’s competing with the most effective on the earth. That “way forward for golf” moniker isn’t simply due to her novice report, although. Zhang is the true deal — and she or he’s already proved as a lot within the professional ranks.

Three weeks in the past at Liberty Nationwide, Zhang had her “hiya, world” second as she made her professional debut on the Mizuho Americas Open. On Sunday night in New Jersey, she stood on the 18th inexperienced and hoisted the trophy. One begin, one win. Not a nasty option to begin your profession, huh?

The Girls’s PGA is Zhang’s first begin since that coronation. However as huge an announcement as that win was, Zhang stays humble — nearly to a fault. Her objective this week? Merely enjoying the weekend.


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“I might be very glad to make the reduce,” Zhang mentioned earlier this week. “Similar to final [time] at Mizuho, I used to be actually simply anticipating to make the reduce.”

Thirty-six holes in and that objective has been secured. Zhang posted rounds of 70 and 74 and is six again of the lead heading into Saturday.

“I’m simply type of within the mindset of studying and simply treating all the pieces as a studying course of,” Zhang mentioned. “That permits me to only take it one after the other and take into consideration all the pieces that’s taking place and simply soak it in.”

After ending their rounds and being shuttled again from the distant ninth inexperienced to scoring, Thompson, Lee and Zhang every spoke to the media.

Thompson exuded a renewed vitality, content material to have discovered one thing in her sport within the closing stretch, and making an attempt like hell to carry onto it. Lee spoke to a crowded room of scribes, assured in her swing, however sticking to the pro-golfer script that it’s essential to take the event one shot at a time.

Zhang exited scoring to comparatively little fanfare. After a disappointing finish to her spherical, a lot of the media’s consideration was elsewhere. However she did converse glowingly in regards to the expertise of enjoying with such extremely regarded gamers.

“They’re significantly wonderful,” Zhang mentioned. “It’s actually cool to be alongside them. Simply seeing every of them play their very own video games and be alongside them is de facto cool to see. I’m actually honored to be alongside them.”

Friday wasn’t fairly a passing of the torch — Thompson and Lee nonetheless have loads of sport — however the tomorrow’s stars are developing quick.

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com the place he spends his days running a blog, producing and modifying. Previous to becoming a member of the group at GOLF, he attended the College of Texas adopted by stops with the Texas Golf Affiliation, Workforce USA, the Inexperienced Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all issues instruction and covers novice and ladies’s golf. He might be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.

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