THE WOODLANDS, Texas – From a scheduling standpoint, Lexi Thompson has eased into the year’s first major, teeing it up only twice so far in 2023 – once on the LPGA and once in Saudi Arabia.
But all that time off didn’t exactly lead to a rested approach, at least physically. Turns out Thompson, 28, grinded so hard back home in south Florida that she arrived at the Chevron Championship with a taped-up right wrist. The pain started about a week ago.
“I’ve just been hitting so many golf balls at home,” said Thompson, when asked about the black tape that ran up past her elbow, “and I’ve kind of — I’m not going to say injured, but it’s hurting a little bit. But I’ve gotten work done the last few days and getting it taped up.
“But yeah, I think I just overworked it. It’s nothing crazy severe, but it’s there. But we’ll see.
Thompson began the week in Texas at the Champions Dinner, where she enjoyed some hearty laughs at the table with former Solheim Cup captains Juli Inkster and Pat Hurst. For all the joy and heartache she experienced at Mission Hills Country Club, it was her favorite stop on tour.
This week marks a big transition for the American star.
“It’s definitely a major feel for this golf course,” said Thompson of the Nicklaus Course at The Club at Carleton Woods. “It’s playing long, and it’ll get windy. It’s Texas, so it’ll get windy out there and play difficult … that’s how a major should be.”
At home, Thompson typically spends two hours a day on her putting, and in the weeks leading up to this event, she was especially focused on ballstriking.
Stacy Lewis grew up in The Woodlands and said great ballstriking will be a premium this week given that the greens are firm and precision is required to certain hole locations.
“Then I think you could look to anyone that grew up playing on Bermudagrass,” said Lewis, “and the chipping and the surrounds. I think that’s going to be a big factor this week of just knowing how to play those shots around the greens.”
As for the wrist, Thompson said the pain is the worst when she hinges on the way back and releases on the way through.
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“Just kind of the pressure of putting my thumb on top of the club,” she said. “But overall, it was better today, so hopefully it’ll just slowly go away.”
Thompson began the year in February at the Saudi Ladies International, an LET event that featured a $5 million purse. In March, she made her LPGA season debut at the Drive On Championship in Arizona, where she missed the cut. She hasn’t teed it up since.
“You know, just enjoying my life a bit more off the golf course,” she said of the prolonged break.
“I’ve taken the offseason, got to spend a lot of time with my family and friends, and I gave myself an extra month basically. I played in Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, and then played in Arizona, and just kind of spacing out my events, making sure I’m nice and healthy and not too tired for the events that I really want to play in and the golf courses that set up for my game.”
Being on her own schedule, close to family, she said, does wonders for her mentally. Her parents are at the Chevron this week and older brother Nicholas is on the bag
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“I mean, this is my 13th year (on tour), so it’s not like it’s just my first, second year. I’ve been playing golf since I was 5 years old. I haven’t known any different ever since I was 12,” said Thompson, when asked if she’s ever been burnt out.
“Not so much burnt out, but just maybe in too much of a routine, and I’m not even going to say rut, but I just wasn’t allowing myself to go on the vacations and live life more because there’s just so much more to it than a game.”
An 11-time winner on the LPGA, Thompson last won on tour at the 2019 ShopRite LPGA Classic. She won on the LET last October at the Aramco Team Series event in New York.
Her lone major title came at the 2014 Chevron Championship, where she beat Michelle Wie West by three strokes. Thompson has since finished in the top five at major championships on 10 different occasions, suffering a number of devastating finishes along the way.
“I think I’m just a lot more refreshed,” she said of her lighter schedule. “I think I’m in a better mindset, more relaxed, just happier to be out here. Not saying that I wasn’t before, but just refreshed. I had the time off that I needed.
“Of course, I was training probably harder than ever when I was home, but I made sure to take the time later in the day and the nights to really unwind and get my mind off golf and making sure that I’m excited to come back out.”