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Lexi Thompson reflects on career after missing cut at U.S. Women’s Open

LANCASTER — On the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that this year’s LPGA season would be her last on tour, 29-year-old Lexi Thompson fielded questions from the media following her second round Friday at the U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club.

While grateful for the opportunity to play in the major championship once more, Thompson had a tournament to forget as she shot a 13-over 153 and missed the cut.

On Thursday, she shot an 8-over 78 and on Friday a 5-over 75.

“Minus the golf, it was amazing,” Thompson said follwing her round on Friday. “It wasn’t the golf that I wanted to play honestly, but it was a special week, of course, with announcing what I did. To see all the parents out there and just to hear their chants and like ‘Go Lexi’s’ made me smile every single shot even if I kept bogeying. It was a special week.”

Lexi Thompson reads a putt Friday at the U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

Having played in her first U.S Women’s Open in 2007 when she was just 12 years old, the 15-time LPGA winner fought back tears as the emotions behind a lifetime spent playing the game she loves began to take hold.

With her family in mind, Thompson was understandably choked up when expressing her gratitude for the support she has received along the way.

“It’s meant the world to me; like I said earlier in the week, this is where my whole dream got started,” Thompson said. “When I was 12, I knew when I teed it up first at Pine Needles, that’s where I wanted to be and playing against the best. To continue to do so and to be playing my 18th, though it wasn’t the way I wanted to end it, it was always special every time I teed it up at the USGA events, so I cherished every moment that I had.”

“I’m so blessed and grateful for the family I have … I’m just so blessed for the family I have.”

Regarding her decision to retire, Thompson explained earlier in the week that the thought had occurred in recent years and that she is looking forward to pursuing other interests after focusing on golf for so long, such as spending more time with family and working on her personal fitness app “Lexi Fitness.”

Lexi Thompson Thursday at the U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

“I’m not going to sit here and say it hasn’t crossed my mind in past years,” Thompson said Tuesday. “But I feel like I’m at a point in my life where it is time to step away from a full-time schedule. There’s more things to life than going to a tournament every week and doing the same training every day. There’s just more to it, and I’m looking forward to experiencing that.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize I’ve been out here (on tour) since I was 15 years old. I’ve known only professional golf life and junior golf, amateur golf, being on the road. I’ve thought about it the last few years, but it never was the right time for me. Now where I’m at today and still the goals I want to accomplish the rest of this year, I’m super fired up about that, and I just want to enjoy every walk that I have out there.”

In addition to her other pursuits, mental health also played a role in Thompson’s decision.

Lexi Thompson hits out of the fairway Friday at the U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

Less than a week after PGA golfer Grayson Murray died by suicide, Thompson spent part of her announcement on Tuesday addressing the toll that golf can have on individuals, as well as advocating for those struggling to seek help.

“I feel like mental health is such an important thing, just for the everyday person, not just athletes,” Thompson said. “I think we all have our own struggles, especially out here. Unfortunately in golf you lose more than you win, so it’s an ongoing battle to continue to put yourself out there in front of the cameras and continuing to work hard and maybe not seeing the results you want and getting criticized for it. So it’s hard.

“I will say, yes, I’ve struggled with it (mental health). I don’t think there’s somebody out here that hasn’t. It’s just a matter of how well you hide it, which is very sad. It’s an important thing to address and be OK with getting help and getting the support and surrounding yourself with the people that support you and love you, because there’s always people that do care so much about you and will help you get through those tough moments.”

An inspiration for golfers both young and old, at the time when she made her U.S Women’s Open debut at Pine Needles, Thompson was the youngest ever to qualify for the tournament.

Over her career, Thompson has won one major championship, the 2014 Chevron Championship, and has been a runner-up in four others, most recently at the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open after losing a five-shot lead.

Lexi Thompson Thursday at the 2024 U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

She was also the youngest at the time to win her first LPGA event, the 2017 Navistar Classic.

Though both records she set in her youth have since been broken, the impact that she has had on young athletes through golf is something that Thompson has held dear after being inspired by role models of her own.

“Coming into the sport, I just wanted to leave it in a better spot than it was,” Thompson said. “When I first stepped in having role models like Nancy Lopez and Annika (Sorenstam), what they’ve done for the game and the way they’ve given back that’s always what I wanted to do.

“Whether my accomplishments or not, I wanted to get back and sign the autographs, take pictures and grow the game any way I can. I think the LPGA and USGA are really doing things like that. There are so many golf programs to help these little kids get involved in the game, and just to see the smile on their faces, that’s what we want.”

With plenty of golf still left to play for the remainder of the LPGA tour, Thompson has her sights on making the team for the Solheim Cup (a biennial golf tournament for professional women golfers contested by teams representing Europe and the United States), as well as having a strong showing in other events.

Her last LPGA Tour win was on June 9, 2019 at the Shoprite LPGA Classic. Thompson ranks 10th on the LPGA’s all-time earning list with $14,054,983 over 246 events.

Lexi Thompson hitting out of the fairway Friday at the 2024 U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)

“Number one (goal) is to definitely be on the Solheim Cup team,” Thompson said Tuesday. “Huge honor just to represent my country and play alongside the team there and my captain.”

“Every tournament I tee it up, I want to win still. Doesn’t matter what position I’m at, I want to win and just enjoy the ride and keep on seeing the improvements. I’ve been working very hard on my game, so to see the continued hopefully improvements, that’s big for me.”

Before completing her press conference on Friday, Thompson reflected back on her beginnings and shared advice for the next generation.

And, as Thompson said when discussing mental health, in a game that can often be more taxing than rewarding, her key to a long and prosperous career seems clear.

“Just enjoy life, you know?” Thompson said. “It’s tough. That’s always a hard question, but I would just say, enjoy every single experience. Like really just embrace every shot you hit, every tournament you have, but just be grateful for everything that you have in your life.

“Enjoy every experience that you get to make and just being out here.”

Lexi Thompson walks the green Friday at the 2024 U.S Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club. (COURTESY OF BILL SNOOK)