Lexi Thompson’s first appearance at a major championship was a complete disaster. She shot 86-82 at the US Open in 2007 and missed the cut by a country mile. Most golfers would have figured that, maybe, just maybe, they weren’t that good after all. Most golfers would have felt so humiliated they would refuse to pick up a golf club ever again. Most golfers, however, don’t qualify for their first US Open aged 12 years and four months.In fact, most golfers don’t qualify for their second US Open aged 13 (2008) or their third aged 14 (2009). Lexi Thompson did. She even made the cut in 2009, finishing 34th. She was 14 years old, for Seve’s sake!
In 2010, still an amateur, Lexi was undefeated in the Curtis Cup, winning four matches and halving another. She turned pro the following week and signed sponsorship deals with Cobra Puma Golf and Red Bull. Those guys are no fools.
In September 2011 Lexi won her first LPGA tour event, the Navistar Classic by five strokes. She was 16 years old. She wasn’t even a full tour member at this point, having to pre qualify for events on the Monday prior to each tournament. When she won the Navistar, she petitioned the LPGA for full membership. Unsurprisingly, it was approved.
Within a couple of short years, Lexi Thompson had diffused all the crazy hullaballoo around her. All the inflammatory questions:
“Will she even make the cut?”
“Will she be able to handle the pressure?”
“Will she start crying when things go wrong?!”
All these hysterical doubts and questions were shot down before they had even taken flight.
Earlier this year Lexi won the Kraft Nabisco at Mission Hills. After a an astonishing second round 64, Lexi shot 69 on Saturday and went into the final day tied with Michelle Wie. Lexi burned up the front nine building a five shot lead.
Her 68 gave her a three-stroke victory and Lexi was crowned a major champion aged 19 years, one month and 27 days. Thankfully she didn’t have to ask any questions about being the youngest ever Major winner as Morgan Presell had already nailed that one a couple of years earlier. Following her major triumph, Lexi received 91 million impressions in 48 hours. Lexi Thompson was now a superstar.
The only thing left for Lexi to achieve was a cover shoot in GolfPunk. Call us old fashioned, but we’re real suckers for a charming, beautiful, successful golf starlet so we gladly obliged…
So Lexi, welcome to GolfPunk, how’s the shoot going?
“The photo shoot is going great. We’ve done a few different shots that I’m not used to, but I’ve seen some of the pictures and they look amazing. I’m really excited to see them in GolfPunk.”
Does it ever get annoying that people refer to you as ‘that amazing girl who played the US Open aged 12?
“Ha ha … it doesn’t really get annoying but I do hear that a lot, it just comes with the territory of having achieved that when I was 12. Bit I’m not the youngest any more! It’s the 11-year-old Lucy Li now. Records are made to be broken and I’m glad that I was part of a record. It was never a pressure or anything anyway. I mean, playing sport for a living, getting up and practicing on the range and travelling the world playing tournaments the best courses against the best fields… it doesn’t get better than that.”
Turning pro at a young age must have had certain pressures and expectations?
“It did but I just went out there and tried to ignore all of the stuff that was going on about me being so young turning pro and everything. I just focused on my own expectations and tried to play well in every tournament. I wanted to win obviously but I just set my own goals and didn’t listen to anyone else, because if you listen to other people it’ll just set you off track.”
Are you ahead of schedule regarding majors?
“It’s hard to say because, growing up, I’ve always set my goals pretty high, I’ve always played in older age divisions and in tournaments beyond what my actual age group.
“Going into 2014 my goal was to establish credibility and win majors, so I’m pretty happy with how it’s gone so far. But there’s nowhere to go but up from here so I’m going to keep setting my goals higher and higher and practice even harder.
Career-wise I’d say winning tournaments and majors obviously and getting into the Hall Of Fame has always been a goal for me. Outside of golf I’d like to be known as a humble person and always great to my fans, always stick around after my round, good or bad, to sign every autograph and hang for pictures and everything.
“You have to realize, no matter how tired you are after playing a round of golf that these people have taken time out of their lives to come and watch you play and they support you whether you shot 67 or 80. You have to show them that you’re there for them too”