WOBURN, England – Lexi Thompson said no player has confronted her about her passport debacle and the grief it caused so many fellow pros Monday at the AIG Women’s British Open, but . . .
“I can kind of feel it,” Thompson said Wednesday when she met with the media at Woburn Golf Club. “I do apologize. I would be upset, too, if I was the other players.”
After realizing Sunday night that she left her passport in her golf bag at the Evian Championship in France, which was loaded on to a truck with the golf bags of 37 other players and on its way to England, Thompson was desperate to retrieve it.
“I was freaking out, honestly,” she said. “I was like, 'I’m going to be stranded here.’”
Thompson said she was able to contact the transport driver and arrange for him to stop and wait while she sent her caddie, Benji Thompson, in a taxi to meet him. The driver was about 45 minutes outside Geneva, Switzerland, where the caddie was picking up the taxi. Ian Wright, the driver, said he pulled over at a gas station to unpack the truck while waiting. He said he was delayed three hours there, where he had to repack the truck after the caddie retrieved the passport. He said that delay ultimately caused him to miss his booking on a ferry and also to get stuck in multiple rush-hour traffic jams. He didn’t arrive in Woburn until 5 p.m., about five to six hours later than he anticipated.
About 40 anxious caddies and players, many of them grumbling, were waiting in the parking lot when the truck finally arrived. The course was closed to practice rounds when he reached Woburn.
“I can’t apologize enough,” she said.
Thompson said she was unaware of the complications she caused.
“He didn't tell us that he could possibly miss the ferry, or anything like that,” Thompson said. “I didn't know the possibility of it being that much delayed, or I probably wouldn't have done it. But I think if any other player was in the situation, and the reaction time that we had, and that he was close to my caddie, I think any player probably would have done it. Like I said, I'm sorry that this had happened, but that's all I can say.”
It’s been a rough week for Thompson, who missed the cut at the Evian Championship, just her second missed cut in a major in the last five years. She complained about the quirky nature of Evian in an Instagram post, and how too many good shots end up in bad places with all the unpredictable bounces on that course. She felt backlash from the LPGA, from European players who defended the championship and from some fans. She ended up deleting the Instagram post and filing a new one explaining she wasn’t being critical of the event as a whole, just certain issues she has with the course.
She was asked about her issues with Evian in Wednesday’s news conference, and what changes she would like to see made.
“I've played in that tournament since I was 14 years old, so it is a great place,” Thompson said. “It’s just the golf course, sometimes, the bounces that you get, you just kind of shake your head at, when it's going right at the pin, and you're a few feet away, and it ends up 50, 60 feet away. I mean, maybe just a few slopes in the greens or leveling out some things. But it's not my choice to make. It's the tournament director, or whoever is in charge.”
Back-to-back majors in back-to-back weeks have required more intense preparation. Thompson was asked how these distractions might affect her at Woburn.
“I'm just really trying to focus on this week and play good golf and just focus on enjoying this experience and being at a major,” she said.
At 24, Thompson has been in the public eye since she was 12, when she first qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open. She has faced challenges with that the last couple years, from the controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration back in 2017 to personal issues that included her mother’s second bout with cancer and the death of her grandmother. She skipped last year’s Women’s British Open while taking time away from the game to deal with the emotional toll she said those issues created. She acknowledged last year that she was seeing a therapist to help her build a life that is about more than just golf.
“This whole career has put me in a lot of situations that I never would have expected,” she said Wednesday. “But I've learned so much about myself and just how strong I am as a person, and realizing who my true friends are, or who's really there for me, and what makes me get through these situations. I always say just a positive outlook helps get through the tough situations, and just never giving up.
“Growing up with a family and circle that I have around me, they've taught me just to be a strong person in general. I'm learning every single day. There's always a learning experience. I've learned a lot through what I've been through, and I guess continue.”