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 obtained her agonizing replace. She was making ready.

Her ailing grandmother Mimi handed away earlier that day, however Thompson’s crew withheld the data till she arrived in a location that provided not less than a little bit of privateness. When she was instructed, 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 near her, the world’s sixth-ranked participant went overseas to satisfy each autograph request and take dozens of images.

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

In a number of instances, Thompson choked down on tears earlier than talking with younger followers completely satisfied to spend a couple of 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 grow to be probably the most well-known face of her era 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 on the within, nonetheless gave herself up regardless of the circumstances.

“She’s a tremendous participant however a way more particular particular person,” mentioned PGA Tour commissioner Molly Marco Semaan. “She’s nice with the women and the followers who come to observe her, and he or she’s only a nice actress. I really 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-place favourite on the ladies’s golf calendar, was a lot the identical after wrapping up her morning engagement on the blue course.

Thompson paused to signal and take images with youngsters and adults alike by the membership, thanking each volunteer accompanying her group and thanking claps and phrases of encouragement nearly anyplace she went.

The search 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 event 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 at a serious event and her first since 2014, when she bested Michelle Wee West by three pictures on the Craft Nabisco Championships at Mission Hills Nation Membership in Rancho Mirage, California.

“Lexi, you do not want a final identify, do you?” She’s the one one who in all probability would not want a household identify. Everybody is aware of who she is,” mentioned Stacey Lewis, two-time principal champion and 2023 US Cup captain Solheim 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 embellished worldwide résumé that features representing the US 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 successful 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 report for Lydia Koe ever since.

Lately, Thompson has plunged right into a relative droop, having final received the 2019 ShopRite Basic. It is the longest dry spell of her profession. Nevertheless, her recreation continues to be genuine, not less than statistically talking, which supplies Thompson, as she put it, with little motive to panic.

She ranked first within the Greens in regulation (76.5 %), third in strokes earned (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 way in which she performs and her capability to hit the golf ball itself is completely wonderful,” Lewis mentioned. “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 lots of younger gamers can be taught rather a lot from.”