HARTFORD, Conn – I’ve been a big-time fan of Lexi Thompson since covering her overpowering victory in the U.S. Girls Junior Golf Championship at Hartford Golf Club in 2008.
I watched most of the 13-year-old’s matches while walking with her father, Scott, who provided some interesting insights into his talented daughter’s lifestyle. When I asked if Lexi might play in a PGA Tour event as Michelle Wie had done in her teens, Scott offered a brilliant response: “She would never think of it unless she consistently dominated her peers.”
Thompson dominated the competition at Hartford Golf Club in that event, including often outdriving Karen Chung by 30-40 yards while cruising to a 5-and-4 victory in the scheduled 18-hole final. That was a year after Thompson was the youngest girl to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open, two years before she turned pro and three years before she set a then record as the youngest winner of LPGA tournament at 16 years, seven months and eight days with a victory in the Navistar LPGA Classic. Three months later, she became the second-youngest winner of a Ladies European Tour event, capturing the Dubai Masters by four strokes on Dec. 17, 2011.
Thompson, of West Palm Beach, Fla., won her first major championship in the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship at 19 years, one month and 27 days, making her the second youngest LPGA golfer to capture one of the tour’s biggest events. It was her fourth of 10 LPGA titles, and she would have 11 if she hadn’t been assessed a controversial four-stroke penalty as the result of replacing her ball incorrectly at the 17th hole of her third round in the 2017 ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major. The infraction was only spotted by a TV viewer after the fact, which meant she was penalized for the incorrect ball replacement and signing an incorrect scorecard. Despite the unfortunate incident, an emotional Thompson managed to get into a playoff but lost to Ryu So-yeon.
In 2018, Thompson withdrew from another major, the Ricoh Women’s British Open, and took a month-long leave from the LPGA. In an Instagram, she said, “I have not truly felt like myself for quite some time. I am therefore taking this time to recharge my mental batteries and to focus on myself away from the game of professional golf.”
After the break, Thompson missed two cuts before the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in which she shot 18 under par for a four-stroke victory over Nelly Korda. It was Thompson’s first win in more than a year, the last of her career and earned her $500,000.
Sadly, Thompson again suffered thanks to social media after playing over Easter weekend with President Donald Trump and legendary conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. Thompson has played with Trump for years, but this time she received several vile comments from deranged haters of the president.
As a result, Thompson posted to Instagram, alongside a selfie:
“Hey everybody, just want to say I will be taking a break from social media. If I post it will be from my management team for me. I’m too involved with it, and to read some of the hurtful things being said to me lately isn’t fair and I’m not dealing with it. Thank you to my true fans out there. I will be back on but I’m going to be focusing on me right now and my life. Thanks for understanding.”
Good move, Lexi. You’re so much bigger than those lowlife morons who spew cowardice hatred on social media.
Thompson, 24, who has built a major social-media presence of nearly a million followers between Instagram and Twitter, immediately received support from many of them.
“Don’t let the internet trolls get you down girl! It’s easy for people to have opinions and voicing them from behind a little screen,” Olympian Monica Aksamit wrote.
“F the haters. You are incredible Lexi,” another posted.
Thompson, the highest ranked American in the Rolex Ranking at No. 8, previously opened up to Golf Digest in 2017 about golfing with Trump post-presidency. She said playing with Trump was an “interesting” experience because of the massive security and Secret Service presence. But “I’m not into politics, so honestly I can’t even ask him anything.”
In typical left-wing liberal “fake news” fashion, several prominent media entities ran stories that inferred Thompson’s break stemmed from backlash for playing with Trump over Easter weekend. But Thompson’s team quickly refuted the reports last week.
“It has come to our attention that the reason for Lexi Thompson’s decision to take a break from social media has been taken out of context by various media outlets,” a statement from Blue Giraffe Sports said. “Lexi’s decision was not based on a recent event or post, but rather from a culmination of harsh, hurtful and unwarranted commentary from social media abusers over time.
“Lexi is aware that this is a constant problem for most people in the public spotlight, and she has always readily accepted that fact. Lexi is excited to compete in the LPGA Mediheal Championship this week in San Francisco and simply wanted to remove this negative variable on a temporary basis in order to focus on competing against the world’s best.
“Any news report that a recent event or situation led to her decision is completely false and erroneous. Lexi wants to thank all of her fans and supporters for their continued outpouring of support and encouragement and looks forward to being back very soon.”
Thompson rallied from a poor first round to shoot a closing, 1-under-par 71 Sunday for a 72-hole total of 3-under 283 and a tie for fourth in the Mediheal Championship. She has three Top-10 finishes in seven starts this year, has surpassed $9 million in career earnings and has an estimated net worth of $5 million. She also has at least one victory in each of the last six seasons (2013-2018), the longest active streak on the LPGA Tour. But this time she finished two strokes behind Sei Young Kim (75), Bronte Law (65) and Jeongeun Lee (67). Kim birdied the first playoff hole to prevail at Lake Merced in Daly City, Calif.
Golf hasn’t completely dominated Thompson’s life. In May 2015, she was the cover girl for Golf Digest’s Fitness and Power Issue that also included Wie and fellow LPGA players Stacy Lewis and Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods who was among the Most Beautiful Women in Golf in 2017. Thompson, whose brothers Nicolas and Curtis also play on golf tours, has three international victories and is 5-2-4 in the Solhem Cup against Europe. While an amateur, she was 4-0-1 in the 2010 Curtis Cup against Great Britain-Ireland.
Despite such a notable resume, Lexi still hasn’t challenged the “big boys” on the PGA Tour, but she has teamed with Tour players DeChambeau and then Finau in the QBE Shootout at Tubiron Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla. She joined Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam as the only women to play in the event since it started in 1989 and tied for 11th with DeChambeau in 2017 and shared fourth with Finau last year. Sorenstam tied for 12th with Fred Couples in 2006.
Hopefully Lexi Thompson can continue to overcome the sorry social media maggots and earn a spot alongside Sorenstam in the shrine of women’s golf!