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Lexi Thompson, 29, to retire from full-time LPGA schedule at end of 2024

Lexi Thompson, 29, to retire from full-time LPGA schedule at end of 2024

Lexi Thompson announced Tuesday that this LPGA season will be her last as a full-time competitor.

The surprising announcement came on the eve of the U.S. Women’s Open, where the one-time child prodigy is now making her 18th consecutive appearance.

“Golf has been my life ever since I was 5 years old. I haven’t known much of a life different, but it’s been an amazing one,” Thompson said in a news conference at Lancaster Country Club. “This sport has taught me a lot, and I’ve learned so much along the way, built so many friendships and relationships. I’m looking forward to what life has in store.”

Thompson, who turns 30 next year, has been one of the headliners in the women’s game ever since she burst onto the scene as a tall, powerful teenager and prodigious talent.

After turning professional in 2010, Thompson set what was then a record for the youngest winner of an LPGA event, when she captured the 2011 Navistar Classic at the age of 16. After the LPGA rewrote its age-requirement rules to grant her full membership, she won three events in the next two years, including the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship (now called the Chevron Championship) for her lone major title.

In all, Thompson has won 11 times on tour, though not since 2019.

“She’s had such an amazing career,” said world No. 1 Nelly Korda, who has played on three Solheim Cup teams with Thompson. “It’s sad to see that she’s obviously leaving and not going to be out here with us anymore, but she’s had an amazing career, and I wish her the best in this new chapter of her life.”

Thompson, in her 14th full season on tour, said she contemplated stepping away during the past few years but the timing was never right. When asked why she was making the decision to retire now, she said there wasn’t one overriding factor – it’s just where she is in her life and career. She also didn’t rule out playing a limited number of events moving forward, adding that she’s taking it “day by day right now.”

“There’s more things to life than going to a tournament every week and doing the same training every day,” she said. “There’s just more to it, and I’m looking forward to experiencing that. I feel like I’m very content with where my life is and where this decision will lead me to. I’m just looking forward to what life has in store other than golf.”

As the next wave of players began to dominate the LPGA, Thompson became known as much for her close calls as her bold, aggressive style of play. With eight career top-3s in majors, she surrendered leads at both the 2019 and 2021 U.S. Women’s Open, the latter after taking a five-shot lead on the back nine on Sunday. In 2017, while in position to win her second major championship, she was penalized four strokes for incorrectly replacing her ball on the green and eventually lost in a playoff at Mission Hills. Later that year, she missed a 2-foot putt on the final green to lose the LPGA’s season-ending title.

A six-time Solheim Cup participant and two-time U.S. Olympian, the big-hitting Thompson remained a fixture in the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings throughout the 2010s.

Thompson's performance has slipped in recent years, however, and in 2023 she was in danger of losing her LPGA card before a late-season rally. This year, she is ranked 64th in the season-long standings and has four missed cuts in six starts while dealing with a lingering hand injury.

At one point in her retirement press conference, Thompson became emotional when reflecting on some of the challenges in her career.

“A lot of people don’t realize a lot of what we go through as a professional athlete,” she said, wiping away tears. “I’ll be the last one to say, like, throw me a pity party. That’s the last thing I want. We’re doing what we love. We’re trying our best every single day. We’re not perfect. We’re human. Words hurt. It’s hard to overcome sometimes. But having the people around you that love you and support you, that’s been the biggest thing for me. I might not have a huge friend group, but to have the people that matter the most around me have gotten me through some really hard times.

“A lot of people don’t know what we go through – the amount of training and hard work that we put ourselves through, it’s a lot. We deserve a lot more credit than what we get.”

Having grown weary of the constant attention, scrutiny and pressure over the past decade, Thompson took a break from golf in 2018, and in recent years she has prioritized her mental health. When she became the seventh woman to play in a PGA Tour event last fall, at the Shriners Children's Open, Thompson, a popular figure on social media, said her lasting goal was to inspire young girls.

“While these achievements are remarkable in and of themselves, Lexi’s impact extends far beyond the golf course,” LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said. “She embodies the spirit and dedication of our founders – always showing up and engaging intentionally to help further the growth and impact of the LPGA. She is beloved by fans, consistently seen signing autographs and interacting with them no matter the result that day. … Lexi’s remarkable career and the way she has conducted herself both on and off the course have inspired countless girls around the world to pursue their goals with passion and perseverance.”