September 18, 2011
Hype is a strange thing. Most of the time, we writers and analysts see something appealing, like a young star that hits it a mile and has the swagger needed to embrace their soon-to-be celebrity lifestyle and we talk them up. We've done it to Rickie Fowler. We did it this season to Jamie Lovemark. And Michelle Wie still stands atop them all in hyped golfers that we want so desperately to be great.
So when I first walked past Lexi Thompson on a driving range, I knew how great some thought she could be, but I had no idea personally until I watched her hit a few golf balls. I wasn't supposed to be watching her. I was there caddying for a friend of mine and was supposed to be cleaning grips and clubs, but it was hard not to look over to Lexi smashing long irons where most of the other players were landing their drivers.
Thompson was talented, but we all know how hard it can be to take that from the driving range to the golf course, and be successful. But Sunday showed us exactly what we expected. The 16-year-old became the youngest winner on the LPGA by two years, and did it in dramatic fashion, taking a five shot lead into the final round in Alabama.
It isn't that Lexi won her first tournament the same year most kids get their driver's license, but it's that a young American girl finally lived up to what we expected. Thompson can smash the ball off the tee, but it was her guts down the stretch that showed she's something special.
How great can she be? Who knows, a lot of things can happen when youth meets success, but for now, she's the story in golf, and she should be.
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