PINEHURST, N.C. – Two months after earning her first major title, Lexi Thompson is back for more.
Thompson won the Kraft Nabisco Championship by three shots over Michelle Wie in April, and she has remained hot ever since. The 19-year-old followed that breakthrough win with three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a runner-up result at the Kingsmill Championship. She enters the U.S. Women’s Open full of confidence and ranked No. 6 in the world.
“The win at Kraft Nabisco helped me out so much, getting a major win under my belt under that kind of pressure and those circumstances,” Thompson said. “Coming into the U.S. Open, it’s the tournament I look forward to every year, being an American playing in your own national championship.”
Thompson is making her eighth appearance in this event, having first qualified for the Open as a 12-year-old in 2007 at Pine Needles. With 11-year-old Lucy Li about to break her record as the youngest participant in tournament history, Thompson took time to reflect on her first foray onto the national stage.
“I was just so excited to be there. I practiced my autograph on the drive up there to Pine Needles and I was just – it was pretty overwhelming,” she said. “I got to see all the players I watch on TV and I was so excited to be there to tell myself all right, I’m actually playing this week.”
As one of the players that others now watch on TV, Thompson points to an improved short game as a catalyst for her recent success, and as an aspect that she knows will be important this week at Pinehurst No. 2.
“I put in at least two and a half hours a day (in the offseason) on just chipping and putting,” Thompson said. “Getting that under control, because not every week – or not every day for that matter, you’re not going to have your great ball-striking days. So you have to depend on your putting and chipping sometimes, and I think that’s what gave me the confidence and put a lot less pressure on my ball-striking.”
Thompson still looks up to her older brothers Nicholas, who plays full-time on the PGA Tour, and Curtis, who just completed his junior year at LSU. She does admit, though, that having a major championship to her credit helps to give her a leg up when their sibling rivalry hits the course.
“I can’t say I’ve thrown it in their face too much, but it’s pretty intense matches when we get all together,” she said. “It definitely allows me to trash talk a little bit more.”