Lexi Thompson shrugs off grief and remains a female PGA fan favorite

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Lexi Thompson sunk a birdie’s punch on her final gap on the US Girls’s Open this month, walked to the scoring facility subsequent to the 18th inexperienced at Pine Needles Golf Membership in South Pines, North Carolina, and acquired her agonizing replace. She was getting ready.

Her ailing grandmother Mimi handed away earlier that day, however Thompson’s staff withheld the knowledge till she arrived in a location that supplied a minimum of a measure of privateness. When she was informed, Thompson started to cry, although she had come to phrases with the inevitable as she sat by the mattress throughout her beloved grandmother’s final days.

After an prolonged emotional launch and loads of sympathy from these closest to her, the world’s sixth-ranked participant went overseas to meet each autograph request and take dozens of photographs.

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“It was actually laborious, however I do know she desires me to kill him,” Thompson, 27, stated Tuesday on the Congress Nation Membership in Bethesda, the positioning of this week’s PGA Girls’s Championship. “It is very important give again to the followers. I imply, they’ve taken the time of their lives to help me, good or unhealthy. The least I can do is give them a few of my time.”

In a number of circumstances, Thompson choked down on tears earlier than talking with younger followers comfortable to spend just a few seconds in her firm. Nevertheless, she continued to press, unwilling to deprive the star women of their second with a {golfing} function mannequin who would maybe turn into probably the most well-known face of her technology within the girls’s recreation.

Her supporters did not care that Thompson scored a 5-over-76 within the final spherical or that she ended up in a draw for twentieth in her quest to win her first US Girls’s Open title. What was necessary was that Thompson, unhappy inside, nonetheless gave herself up regardless of the circumstances.

“She’s a tremendous participant however a way more particular individual,” stated PGA Tour commissioner Molly Marco Semaan. “She’s nice with the women and the followers who come to observe her, and she or he’s only a nice actress. I like watching her play as a result of she’s only a killer athlete, however when you understand the non-public facet, it makes it even higher.”

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The demand for Thompson’s consideration in Congress, the place the 11-time favourite was a third-placed favourite on the ladies’s golf calendar, was broadly the identical after she wrapped up her morning engagement on the blue course.

Thompson paused to signal and take footage with kids and adults alike by the membership, thanking each volunteer accompanying her group and acknowledging applause and phrases of encouragement virtually anyplace she went.

The hunt for Thompson’s first victory within the Girls’s PGA Championship begins Thursday with a time of 1:23 p.m. within the first skilled main match to be contested within the metropolitan space for the reason that 2011 US Open. It additionally marks the primary girls’s main in Congress.

Thompson is chasing her second win in a significant match and her first since 2014, when she beat Michelle Wee West by three pictures on the Craft Nabisco Championships at Mission Hills Nation Membership in Rancho Mirage, California.

“Lexi, she would not want a final identify, does she?” She’s the one one that in all probability would not want a household identify. Everybody is aware of who she is,” stated Stacey Lewis, a two-time Grand Champion and 2023 US Cup captain who completed third behind Thompson at Kraft Nabisco in 2014.

Thompson ranks first in Solheim Cup factors, making it a digital lock-up for the sixth consecutive look and including to a adorned worldwide résumé that features representing america on the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. Subsequent 12 months’s Solheim Cup is scheduled to happen in Andalusia, Spain.

Thompson initially gained fame in golf circles in 2011 by being the youngest participant in historical past to win an LPGA Tour occasion, posting three consecutive rounds within the Nineteen Sixties on his option to profitable the five-stroke LPGA Basic at Senator Course in Prattville, Ala.

She was solely 16 years, 7 months and eight days outdated, which has been a New Zealand file for Lydia Koe ever since.

Just lately, Thompson has plunged right into a relative hunch, having final received the 2019 ShopRite Basic. It is the longest dry spell of her profession. Nevertheless, her recreation remains to be genuine, a minimum of statistically talking, which offers Thompson, as she put it, with little motive to panic.

She ranked first within the Greens within the rules (76.5 p.c), third in strokes gaining complete (2.26 per spherical) and sixth in driving distance (274.68 yards). I additionally got here out of a tie for fifth on the LPGA Basic final week, dropping in a three-way playoff by two strokes.

“The best way she performs and her capability to hit the golf ball itself is completely superb,” Lewis stated. “You watch her stroll round and the best way she treats the followers and the younger children, you understand, it is one thing I feel a whole lot of younger gamers can be taught loads from.”