By SCOTT COTTOS
SYLVANIA — In competitive golf, the only defense is a good offense.
And while Lexi Thompson put on a terrific display of scoring in last year’s Marathon Classic, second place was the best she could muster.
Thompson, well known to golf fans since she qualified for the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open as a 12-year-old, covered Highland Meadows Golf Club in 267 strokes over four days, shooting rounds of 67, 65, 69 and 66.
But In-Kyung Kim’s final-round 63 vaulted her past Thompson for a 21 under-par total of 263 and gave her the victory.
Thompson, 23, recalled the 2017 shootout after a driving-range session on Monday at Highland Meadows in preparation for this year’s Marathon Classic. Play will begin Thursday and conclude on Sunday.
“She played amazing golf,” Thompson said of Kim’s final-round performance last year. “You know, all you can control is your game and your attitude, so that’s all I was just really trying to focus on. I knew I had to make a lot of birdies that last day. I tried. But, you know, that’s golf.
“Some people just play better than you do that week. But I took a lot of positives from the week. I played well and finished (second). That’s all we want. We want to put ourselves in contention and have a chance to win.”
Thompson has done quite a good job of that since she joined the LPGA Tour in 2012 at age 17. She’s won nine tournaments, including one major, and more than $7.9 million dollars.
Last year, she won two tournaments and finished third on the earnings list with $1,877,181. But 2017 was far from a bed of roses for her.
In between a controversial four-stroke penalty possibly costing her a win in the ANA Inspiration and her grandmother dying in September, Thompson played much of the LPGA season while her mother fought uterine cancer.
Though Thompson competed in tour events at her mom’s insistence, she didn’t truly have her heart and head in playing golf.
Despite the added emotional stress, Thompson not only played, she thrived. And since being declared cancer free in November her mother, Marie Thompson, is doing the same.
“Last year was tough,” Lexi Thompson said. “It was one of my best golf years, performance wise, but off the course it was a struggle. Just dealing with the health of my mom, I was so worried about her. … It was tough to even focus on my golf game. But I think that’s what took a lot of pressure off myself because I wasn’t worrying about my golf game, and I think that’s why I played so much better.
“But my mom is clear now. She’s cancer free. It was amazing news. She’s been my best friend my whole life, so just to hear that news (of her having cancer) was the worst thing I could possibly hear. It was not a good time in my life. But it’s a lot better now and she’s been to a few events this year, so it’s been great.”
The long-hitting Thompson, who stands 6 feet tall, owns the No. 5 spot in the Rolex World Rankings and is 15th on the LPGA money list with $607,454. A tie for third has been her best finish so far as she tries to extend her current LPGA-high streak of five seasons with a victory.
“It’s been good,” she said. “I’ve had a few good tournaments and some not so good. But I’ve been working a lot on my game while practicing, especially in the offseason. I like where my game’s at. I’ve had some good finishes and put myself in contention in a few of the tournaments.
“I haven’t won yet, but, you know, it’s tough to win out here. It’s the best of the best and the competition’s getting harder. But I try my best and I’m enjoying it.”
And Thompson would love to get back on the winning track this weekend.
“It’s a tournament I feel confident at,” she said. “I love coming here to Toledo. (Director) Judd (Silverman) does a great job of running this tournament, and all of the volunteers as well. It’s just a tournament I feel comfortable at. I love the golf course, and I think that always helps your performance at an event.”
MONDAY QUALIFIER: Former University of Findlay standout Kasey Petty came up short of gaining a spot in the Marathon Classic on Monday.
Petty shot a 3-over-par 74 to tie for sixth among 36 golfers in the Monday qualifying event at Sylvania Country Club.
Molly Skapik, of Miamisburg and the University of Louisville, won the event with a 2-under-par 69. The runner-up, who also qualified for the Marathon Classic, was Allie White, an assistant golf coach at Ohio University.
White hails from Lancaster, played collegiately at North Carolina and Ohio State and had a stint on the developmental Symetra Tour.