TPC Summerlin, one of the PGA Tour’s great birdiefests, will require Lexi Thompson to go low

Lexi Thompson stated earlier this week at the 2023 Shriners Children’s Open that making the cut at a PGA Tour event would be at the top of her accomplishments. No woman has done it since Babe Zaharias before the LPGA was even formed.

“That would be an amazing feeling,” said Thompson, who becomes the seventh woman to compete in a PGA Tour event this week in Las Vegas and the first since Brittany Lincicome at the 2018 Barbasol Championship.

For Thompson to have a chance at making the cut, she’ll need to go low both days. The average cut over the past five years has been close to 5 under. The average winning score during that stretch at TPC Summerlin, which plays to a par 71, has been 23 under.

When Martin Laird won in 2020, the cut fell at 7 under.

There were 1,956 birdies made at TPC Summerlin last year, ranking third behind Rocket Mortgage (2,066) and The CJ Cup Byron Nelson (2,021) on the PGA Tour for the 2022-2023 season.

Thompson’s birdie stats this season, like the rest of her stats, however, don’t tell the picture of how she’s playing coming into this week. Typically one of the best ball-strikers on tour ranked consistently in the top five in greens in regulation, Thompson ranks 61st in GIR this year and 126th in total birdies.

She’s also played a small schedule. Thompson’s 13 LPGA starts for 2023 ranks 137th on tour.

The good news: She’s been a different player her past three LPGA starts (plus the Solheim!).

Thompson’s scoring average her first nine events this year was 73.41. In her last three starts, she’s averaged 68.9. That’s a 4.51 drop.

Put another way, Thompson’s score in relation to par those first nine starts was a whopping 35 over. She’s been 27 under in her last three starts.

Lexi Thompson at Shriners Children's Open

Lexi Thompson of the United States looks on during a practice round prior to the Shriners Children’s Open at TPC Summerlin on October 11, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images)

Elevation will help an already powerful Thompson compete on a PGA Tour setup of 7,255 yards. She’s ranked 12th on the LPGA in distance at 270.7 yards, but it’s important to note that the LPGA only measures two holes each week for distance, and Thompson often hits something other than driver off those tees.

She’s relishing the opportunity to let it rip, but will need a boatload of birdies to make something special happen. She does have great history playing desert golf, given her tremendous fondness for Mission Hills Country Club, longtime host of the LPGA’s spring major and site of her 2014 victory.

“I get to hit driver basically on every hole, which is nice,” said Thompson. “Usually I get to do that more on the major championships.

“So to be able to come out here and free swing with the driver and have a few mid to long irons into the greens, definitely more major feel.”