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

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Lexi Thompson sunk a birdie’s punch on her final gap on the US Ladies’s Open this month, walked to the scoring facility subsequent to the 18th inexperienced at Pine Needles Golf Membership in South Pines, North Carolina, and obtained her agonizing replace. She was making ready.

Her ailing grandmother Mimi handed away earlier that day, however Thompson’s group withheld the knowledge till she arrived in a location that supplied no less than a measure of privateness. When she was instructed, Thompson started to cry, although she had come 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 meet each autograph request and take dozens of pictures.

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“It was actually exhausting, 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. “You will need to 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 circumstances, Thompson choked down on tears earlier than talking with younger followers blissful to spend a couple 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 turn into probably the most well-known face of her era within the girls’s sport.

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 essential was that Thompson, unhappy inside, nonetheless gave herself up regardless of the circumstances.

“She’s an incredible participant however a way more particular individual,” mentioned PGA Tour commissioner Molly Marco Semaan. “She’s nice with the women and the followers who come to observe her, and she or he’s only a nice actress. I really like watching her play as a result of she’s only a killer athlete, however when the private aspect, 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 kids and adults alike by the membership, thanking each volunteer accompanying her group and acknowledging applause and phrases of encouragement virtually anyplace she went.

The hunt 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 match to be contested within the metropolitan space for the reason that 2011 US Open. It additionally marks the primary girls’s main in Congress.

Thompson is chasing her second win in a serious match 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, she does not want a final identify, does she?” She’s the one one who most likely does not want a household identify. 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 america on the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. Subsequent yr’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, posting three consecutive rounds within the Nineteen Sixties on his approach to profitable the five-stroke LPGA Traditional at Senator Course in Prattville, Ala.

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

Not too long ago, Thompson has 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, no less than statistically talking, which gives Thompson, as she put it, with little cause to panic.

She ranked first within the Greens within the rules (76.5 %), third in strokes gaining complete (2.26 per spherical) and sixth in driving distance (274.68 yards). I additionally got here out of a tie for fifth on the 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 completely wonderful,” Lewis mentioned. “You watch her stroll round and the best way she treats the followers and the younger youngsters, , it is one thing I believe a number of younger gamers can be taught loads from.”