The Devil Ball Q&A: Lexi Thompson

Without a doubt, one of the biggest stories in women's golf these days is the rise of 16-year-old Lexi Thompson, a prodigy/phenom/teen sensation in every sense of those overused terms. She qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at age 12, and has been impressing ever since, right up to this year when she won the Navistar Classic at age 16. She'll be turning pro next year, and we spoke with her for a few minutes ... while she's still taking our calls.

It's been a fantastic 2011 for you. What goals have you set for 2012?

It's probably a little too early to do that. I go to every event just wanting to do my best. I want to win, yeah, but more importantly I want to do my best.

You've been painted as everything from a teen phenom to the savior of the LPGA. How do you anticipate dealing with the amount of pressure that's being placed on you?

I'm not really paying attention to that. I don't mind the attention. I'm just doing what I love.

When did you know that golf was the sport for you?

I played every sport, so I'd say when I quit all the other sports and focused just on golf. I was around 10 years old.

Was there a moment when you knew, "OK, I could make a go of this golf thing."?

I don't really remember, but I'd say being at the [U.S. Women's] Open [in 2007] at 12 years old was a news flash to me, wanting to be out there again.

Without naming the Navistar, what's the second-best tournament you've ever played?

The Open and the [2011] Evian Masters [where she finished T2]. The way I played at those definitely helped, but it was a great experience to go through that so early in my pro career.

What's the round you'd like to have back?

Probably the last round at the Avnet. [Thompson entered the final round tied with the lead, but shot a 78 to tie for 19th]. I'd say I'd like to take it back, but I learned so much from that. If I hadn't played like that, I wouldn't have played like I did in the Navistar. It was a fast round, that's for sure. I don't remember much except for two shots I hit in the water on the back nine. I was really uptight [at the Avnet], so the last day at the Navistar I just relaxed and slowed down.

You dominated everyone you played in junior golf. What's been the biggest transition in playing the professional game?

It's different competition. You're playing the best golf courses than the world. But I'm not playing any different game.

You come from a very active golf family. How competitive are your family games?

They're really competitive. When we're home we play for money every day, money or chores. We play $10 nines or $5 nines. It's intense. Usually one person walks off the course because they're getting beat or frustrated. You've got to be mentally strong to last in our group.

Anybody ever throw a club?

[Laughs] There's definitely been a few club throws.

You're still finishing up high school, but is college in the equation for you?

I haven't thought about it all, really. I'm focusing on golf now, so I'm pretty busy these next few years. College is always going to be there.

There's sadly a long list of phenoms who start fast but burn out before they turn 20. How are you going to avoid that kind of burnout?

I love what I do. I'm not feeling pressured to do anything. I have such a great support system with my family and my sponsors that if I stay humble around them and my fans, it'll be fine.

What are your long-term dreams? Playing in the Masters? Winning every major?

Definitely not playing The Masters! But I definitely want a major. As for a long-term goal? I want to be in the Hall of Fame, and hopefully No. 1 in the world. But as long as I'm playing good golf, I'll be happy.

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