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

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Lexi Thompson sank a birdie’s blow on her final gap on the US Ladies’s Open this month, getting into the scoring facility subsequent to the 18th inexperienced at Pine Needles Golf Membership in South Pines, North Carolina, and receiving the agonizing replace for which she was gearing up.

Her ailing grandmother Mimi handed away earlier Sunday, however Thompson’s group withheld the data till she arrived in a location that provided a minimum of a measure of privateness. When she was advised, Thompson started to cry, at the same time as she got here 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 satisfy each final autograph request and take dozens of pictures.

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“It was actually onerous, however I do know she needs me to kill him,” Thompson, 27, mentioned Tuesday on the Congress Nation Membership in Bethesda, the location of this week’s PGA Ladies’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 instances, Thompson choked down on tears earlier than talking with younger followers completely happy to spend a number of seconds in her firm. Nonetheless, 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 on the women’ sport of her technology.

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 Ladies’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 individual,” mentioned PGA Tour commissioner Molly Marco Semaan. “She’s nice with the ladies 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 youngsters and adults alike by the membership, thanking each volunteer accompanying her group and acknowledging applause and phrases of encouragement virtually anyplace she went.

The search for Thompson’s first victory within the Ladies’s PGA Championship begins Thursday with a time of 1:23 p.m. within the first skilled main event to be contested within the nationwide capital market because the 2011 US Open. It additionally marks the primary girls’s main within the storied Congress.

Thompson is chasing her second win in a significant event 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, you do not want a final title, do you?” She’s the one one who most likely does not want a household title. Everybody is aware of who she is,” mentioned 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 the USA 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, scoring three consecutive rounds within the Nineteen Sixties en path to a five-stroke victory on the Navistar LPGA Traditional at Senator Course in Prattville, Ala.

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

Regardless of this, Thompson has lately plunged right into a relative droop, having final received the 2019 ShopRite Traditional. It is the longest dry spell of her profession. Nonetheless, her sport continues to be genuine, a minimum of statistically talking, which offers Thompson, as she put it, with little purpose to panic.

She ranked first within the Greens in regulation (76.5 p.c), 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 Meijer LPGA Traditional final week, dropping in a three-way playoff by two strokes.

“The way in which she performs and her capacity to hit the golf ball itself is totally superb,” 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 that I feel loads of younger gamers can obtain rather a lot.”