One of the most satisfying and gripping spectacles in sport will always be when someone belies their age and inexperience and wins when they have no real right to do so.
Sixteen-year-old Lexi Thompson did just that at the Navistar LPGA Classic where she won by five shots, finishing at 17-under-par with rounds of 66, 68, 67 and 70.
Cobra-Puma Golf is celebrating a new star. I caught up with Lexi after her historic victory and discovered a young girl happy to celebrate her success whilst being careful not to think too far ahead.
GM: Age when you thought you could make it?
LT: I was around nine or ten years old. I started playing tournaments when I was around seven, US kids stuff and started winning that and that’s when I realised I really wanted to just play golf and do that for my whole life.
GM: When did you first pick up a club?
LT: Probably around five years old.
GM: You’re now a role model. Any advice for young aspiring players?
LT: I would probably just say practise hard and do what you love and to have fun with it. If you’re not having fun you’re not going to get much better so that would be my advice. Never give up.
GM: Your first pro tournament aged 12. What was that like?
LT: It was just an amazing experience. Just being there and seeing all the players I’d watched on TV. I was just star-struck. I was just so excited to be there. I was so nervous too. I remember the first tee shot, my legs were shaking but I hit straight, I don’t even know how.
GM: How did you perform?
LT: At 12 I wasn’t long enough. I was barely getting to some fairways on some holes. But it was really just a great experience for me at such a young age.
GM: Your idols in the game?
LT: I’ve always looked up to Nancy Lopezand Annika Sorenstam just because they’re great players and because they’re amazing off the golf course too. They’re so humble and great people to be around. I’ve met Annika a few times and Nancy Lopez was actually the captain for the Junior Solheim Cup I was on so she was like my mum for the week.
GM: What’s the strongest part of your game?
LT: I would say probably my ball-striking, off the tee and irons but actually this past week my putting has changed a lot and gotten a lot better. I’ve worked so many hours so it’s definitely paid off.
GM: Who’s had the biggest influence on your career?
LT: My two brothers, I would say. Just having them when I was growing up, it’s probably why I started playing golf, just having them behind me and supporting me and having them teach me the whole way.
GM: How do you feel other LPGA players will react to you going forward now you’ve won your first tournament?
LT: They’ve welcomed me and been really great out there. I don’t think they’ll treat me any different, they always say “good luck” and say “hi”. The welcome’s been really great so hopefully that won’t change.
GM: What’s the plan going forward?
LT: Well getting this win definitely gives me a lot of confidence that I can win out here. I’m just taking it tournament by tournament and trying to do my best.
GM: Future world number one?
LT: Definitely in the future I would like to be. It’s one of my goals.