ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Lexi Thompson isn’t looking in the rearview mirror.
Yes, she says, the crushing blow she experienced losing the ANA Inspiration last spring made her even more determined to win a major championship, but she doesn’t like going back there in her head, for motivation or for anything else.
“It’s definitely made me more determined than ever, but I've been such a determined person in general, any time I tee it up out there to win,” Thompson said.
After a sluggish start Friday, Thompson caught fire on the back nine at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, making five consecutive birdies to shoot 4-under-par 68. She grabbed a share of the second-round lead with England’s Georgia Hall (67) through the morning wave.
After Thompson’s round, a British reporter followed up a question about how determined the controversial ANA Inspiration loss made her with a question about whether winning this week would bring redemption.
“I'm not too sure,” Thompson said. “I don't really have any comments about that tournament anymore. I'm just going to focus on one shot at a time on this weekend and see where it goes.”
Thompson doesn’t like going back to Rancho Mirage in her memory, doesn’t like the feelings it brings back. She has made that clear, but the strength shown if she bounces back to claim a major this year might rank as the top story in women’s golf in 2017, as one of the top stories in all of golf. The story includes all the emotions Thompson has felt watching her mother, Judy, go through treatment for uterine cancer in late spring and early summer.
Thompson made a statement about her golf, winning the Kingsmill Championship in May, a little more than a month after that controversial four-shot penalty cost her the ANA Inspiration.
Thompson was asked at Kingsmill what conscious plan she put in place to bounce back from the ANA.
“I went straight home, and I was golfing the next day, if not the day after,” she said. “I was so determined just to keep on working on my game, because I knew that [the ANA] was the best golf I have ever played. I just couldn’t let it get to me.”
And she added one more thing about rebounding after the year’s first major.
“I’m so over it,” she said. “It’s unfortunate what happened, but it’s time to move on.”
In four her last nine starts, Thompson has a victory and four second-place finishes.
There was also some bounce back in Friday’s round.
After a couple front-nine bogeys and making the turn in 38, Thompson caught fire. She ran off five consecutive birdies beginning at the 10th hole.
A personal record run of birdies, perhaps?
“I would say that's probably it,” Thompson said. “No others kind of come to mind.
“Once you get on that kind of streak, you really don't think about it. I was just hitting it pretty well there, so I was just aiming at pins and going for it and made a few good putts.”
Though she has put herself in contention almost every time she has teed it up the last three months, Thompson hasn’t closed the deal in all of them.
After taking a four-shot lead coming home in the final round at the Manulife Classic, Thompson bogeyed four of the final seven holes before losing to Ariya Jutanugarn in a playoff.
Thompson had the lead again going into the final round of the Meijer Classic in her very next start, but Brooke Henderson overtook her to win.
Overall, Thompson has converted just one of her last five 36-hole leads and one of her last six 54-hole leads.
Still, Thompson has been consistently putting up the best scores in the women’s game this year. Her 68.94 scoring average leads the LPGA. Her 68 Friday was her sixth consecutive round in the 60s.
Notably, Thompson has some extra inspiration coming from her family. Her older brother, Nicholas, shot 63 to grab the first-round lead at the Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic.
Lexi grew up competing with older brothers Nicholas and Curtis in some spirited matches in Coral Springs, Fla., where they lived on the course at the TPC at Eagle Trace.
“Any time we can all get together at home in very competitive matches, it's pretty intense,” Thompson said.
Plus, Thompson is continuing to get some special help at Kingsbarns. Her caddie, Kevin McAlpine, is a former Scottish Amateur champion. He caddied for four summers at Kingsbarns.
“It's great to have that local knowledge,” Thompson said.
And the edge that gives.